How to Decide on a CDL Training School near Gallion Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Gallion AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Gallion residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss 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 CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Gallion AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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 drivers may be able to operate 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 required to drive 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Gallion AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Gallion AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, 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 negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Gallion AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially 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 relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Gallion AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Gallion AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driver 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 provide it are called captives. So instead of 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 freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Gallion AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide 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, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Gallion AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads 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 Gallion AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Gallion AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Gallion AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Gallion Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Gallion, also known as Macon Station, is an unincorporated community in Hale County, Alabama, United States. It was named in honor of Jo Gallion, a railroad official. Gallion has a post office with a ZIP code of 36742. Gallion has one site on the National Register of Historic Places, a plantation house known as Waldwic.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Gallion has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Gallion AL
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL 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 choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Gallion AL.
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