Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Elkmont AL

How to Choose a Trucking School near Elkmont Alabama

Elkmont AL truck driving school campusCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Elkmont AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Elkmont home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best means to make certain you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?

long haul tractor trailer in Elkmont ALTo drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Elkmont AL, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries 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. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.

How to Assess a Trucking School

Questions to ask Elkmont AL truck driving schoolsAfter you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Elkmont AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Elkmont AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Elkmont AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Elkmont AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers 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 ability to train them.

Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Elkmont AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Elkmont AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Elkmont AL school you select offers 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 teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Elkmont AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Elkmont AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Elkmont AL?

If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Elkmont Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.

Elkmont, Alabama

Elkmont is a town in Limestone County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town was 434, down from its record high of 470 in 2000.

Elkmont began as a stop known as "Fort Hampton" along the newly-constructed Tennessee and Alabama Central Railroad in 1859. The name was changed to "Elkmont," after the elk that once flourished in the area, in 1866.[4] The Tennessee and Alabama Central eventually became part of the L&N Railroad system, which built the current depot (now used as a community center) in 1887.[5] The railroad tracks have since been removed, and are now part of the Richard Martin Trail. Elkmont incorporated in 1873.[4]

Elkmont is located at 34°55′49″N 86°58′38″W / 34.93028°N 86.97722°W / 34.93028; -86.97722 (34.930155, -86.977086). The town is concentrated around the intersection of County Road 49 (Upper Fort Hampton Road) and the old railroad line (now the Richard Martin Trail), several miles north of Athens, and a few miles south of the Alabama-Tennessee state line. Interstate 65 passes to the east of Elkmont, and the Elk River passes to the west. State Route 127 runs along a portion of Elkmont's western municipal boundary.

Choose the Best Truck Driving School Elkmont AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Elkmont ALPicking the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation 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 a number of options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Elkmont AL.

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