How to Decide on a Trucking School near Gilbertown Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Gilbertown AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Gilbertown residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance 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 Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Gilbertown AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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. Some 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 operate certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Gilbertown AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Gilbertown AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Gilbertown AL schools had to start 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 relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering 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 discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater 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 concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Gilbertown AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide lots 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Gilbertown AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Gilbertown AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Gilbertown AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Gilbertown AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Gilbertown 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 assessing have a financial assistance 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 Gilbertown AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Gilbertown Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
As of the census of 2000, there were 187 people, 90 households, and 54 families residing in the town. The population density was 232.9 people per square mile (90.3/km²). There were 111 housing units at an average density of 138.3 per square mile (53.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 86.63% White, 10.70% Black or African American, 1.07% Native American, and 1.60% from two or more races.
There were 90 households out of which 24.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.9% were married couples living together, 7.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 35.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08 and the average family size was 2.69.
In the town, the population was spread out with 18.7% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 26.7% from 25 to 44, 30.5% from 45 to 64, and 18.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females, there were 83.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.4 males.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Gilbertown AL
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need 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 choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated 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 America move as a professional trucker in Gilbertown AL.
More Trucking Locations in Alabama