How to Select a Truck Driver School near Hanceville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Hanceville AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Hanceville residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you’ll receive the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Hanceville AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 CDL is required 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. Some 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 operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Hanceville AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Hanceville AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed 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 Hanceville 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 history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction 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 claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Hanceville AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several 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 teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable 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 Hanceville AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific 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 relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Hanceville AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer 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, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Hanceville AL school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain 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 needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Hanceville AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Hanceville AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Hanceville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Hanceville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Founded in Blount County, Hanceville was incorporated in May 1879. At the time of Cullman County's creation in 1877, half of Hanceville resided in each county. In 1885, county boundaries were redrawn and all of Hanceville was placed within Blount County. In 1901, county boundaries were redrawn again and this time all of the town was placed within Cullman County, for which it has remained.
Hanceville is located in southeastern Cullman County at 34°3′48″N 86°45′39″W / 34.06333°N 86.76083°W / 34.06333; -86.76083 (34.063463, -86.760908).U.S. Route 31 passes through the city, leading north 9 miles (14 km) to Cullman, the county seat, and south 14 miles (23 km) to Smoke Rise.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,951 people, 1,167 households, and 710 families residing in the city. The population density was 718.6 people per square mile (277.2/km²). There were 1,323 housing units at an average density of 322.2 per square mile (124.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.09% White, 4.61% Black or African American, 0.61% Native American, 0.07% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.75% from other races, and 0.85% from two or more races. 2.30% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Choose the Ideal CDL School Hanceville AL
Picking the right truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to consider 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 choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive 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 in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Hanceville AL.
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