How to Pick a CDL Driving School near Graham Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Graham AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Graham residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you’ll receive the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Graham AL, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are brief 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 more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Graham AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Graham AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Graham AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no 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 regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Graham AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide sufficient 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Graham AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Graham AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Graham AL school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty 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 going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio 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 low job placement rate or few Graham AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Graham AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Graham AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Graham Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Lindsey Olin Graham (born July 9, 1955) is an American politician and retired U.S. Air Force Reserve colonel serving as the senior United States Senator from South Carolina, a seat he has held since 2003. He is a member of the Republican Party.
A native of Central, South Carolina, Graham graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1977. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1981. He served in the United States Air Force from 1982 to 1988 and served in the South Carolina Air National Guard then in the Air Force Reserve, attaining the rank of colonel. He worked as a lawyer in private practice before he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1992, serving one term from 1993 to 1995. He then served in the United States House of Representatives, representing South Carolina's 3rd congressional district from 1995 to 2003. He was elected to four terms, receiving at least 60% of the vote each time.
In 2002, Graham ran for the U.S. Senate after eight-term Republican incumbent Strom Thurmond announced his retirement. Graham won the primary unopposed and defeated Democratic opponent Alex Sanders in the general election. Graham was re-elected to a second term in 2008, defeating Bob Conley. He won a third term in 2014, defeating Democrat Brad Hutto and Independent Thomas Ravenel.
Select the Right Trucking School Graham AL
Picking the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Graham AL.
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