How to Choose a CDL Training School near Elba Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Elba AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Elba home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Elba AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B CDLs might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Elba AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few 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 Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Elba AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Elba AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Elba AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Elba AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Elba AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Elba AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Elba AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Elba AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Elba AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Elba Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Elba is a city in Coffee County, Alabama, United States. At the time of the 2010 U.S. census, its population was 3,940. Elba is part of the Enterprise micropolitan statistical area. Elba is the official county seat of Coffee County, though there are two county courthouses, with the other one being located in the town of Enterprise.
The town which eventually became Elba originated near a ferry across the Pea River in the early 1830s. Originally called Bridgeville, a U.S. post office was established in the town by 1841. In 1851, a lottery to determine a new name for the town was held. One citizen had been reading a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, and his suggestion of "Elba" as its name was the winner when it was drawn from a hat before any of the other suggestions. Elba became the county seat of Coffee County in 1852.
A logging railroad first reached Elba on March 20, 1892, with the first permanent rail line arriving in October 1898. The "Dorsey Trailer Company" was constructed at the end of this railroad line, and this company manufactured the highway trailers that served on railroads and highways starting with the piggyback railroad or containerized cargo boom of the second half of the 20th century. The new railroad line ended in West Elba, where the "New Town" industrial section of the town was located. The Seaboard System Railroad ceased all railroad service to Elba, including freight service, on November 27, 1984.
Choose the Best Truck Driver School Elba AL
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Elba AL.
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