How to Pick a CDL Driving School near Edwardsville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Edwardsville AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Edwardsville home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal method to ensure you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Edwardsville AL, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive with Class A licenses are:
- Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
- Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
- Tanker Trucks
- Livestock Carriers
- Class B and Class C Vehicles
Class B CDL. A Class B CDL is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several of the vehicles that operators may be qualified to drive with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Edwardsville AL trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Edwardsville AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Edwardsville AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Edwardsville AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Edwardsville AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Edwardsville AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Edwardsville AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Edwardsville AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Edwardsville AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Edwardsville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Edwardsville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Edwardsville is a town in Cleburne County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 202. From 1867 to 1906, it served as the Cleburne County Seat. In 1880 and 1890, it was the most populous community in the county. It reached its population zenith of 448 in 1900 when it fell behind Heflin, to which it also lost the county seat to six years later. It has not had more than 226 persons since 1920.
As of the census of 2000, there were 186 people, 80 households, and 55 families residing in the town. The population density was 194.0 people per square mile (74.8/km2). There were 89 housing units at an average density of 92.8 per square mile (35.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 98.39% White, 0.54% Black or African American, and 1.08% from two or more races. 0.54% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 80 households out of which 25.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.8% were married couples living together, 7.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.84.
Choose the Best Trucking School Edwardsville AL
Picking the right trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Edwardsville AL.
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