How to Choose a Truck Driving School near Five Points Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Five Points AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Five Points residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to make sure you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Five Points AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. A few 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 more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Five Points AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Five Points AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks 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 reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Five Points AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
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 discuss more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Five Points AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing 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, an excellent truck driver school will furnish ample 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Five Points AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Five Points AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available 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 of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Five Points AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend 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 commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Five Points AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Five Points AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Five Points AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Five Points Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Five Points Gang
Five Points Gang was a 19th-century and early 20th-century criminal organization, primarily of Italian-American origins, based in the Sixth Ward (The Five Points) of Manhattan, New York City. In the early 19th century, the area was first known for gangs of Irish immigrants. Their descendants gradually moved out, to be followed by the next immigrants.
Paul Kelly, born as Paolo Antonio Vaccarelli, was an Italian American who founded the Five Points Gang, one of the dominant street gangs in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Over the years, Kelly recruited youths who later became prominent criminals, such as Johnny Torrio, Al Capone and Lucky Luciano.
The area of Manhattan where four streets – Anthony (now Worth), Cross (now Mosco), Orange (now Baxter), and Little Water (now nonexistent) – converged was known as "The Five Points".Mulberry, notorious for slum tenements, was one street down from the Five Points. This area, now the present-day location of Chinatown, lay between Broadway and the Bowery. By the 1820s, this district had been a center of settlement for poor immigrants and was considered a "slum" area of run-down wood frame and brick dwellings, warehouses and commercial enterprises dating from the late 18th century colonial era and early 19th century populated by mostly poor English and Scots-Irish with increasing torrents of waves of Irish refugees by the 1840s.
Pick the Right Truck Driving School Five Points AL
Choosing the right trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Five Points AL.
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