How to Pick a CDL Driving School near Henagar Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Henagar AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Henagar residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll obtain the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick 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 CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Henagar AL, an operator must obtain 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 topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss 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 short summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 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 required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Henagar AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Henagar AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 comply with 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 poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Henagar AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Henagar AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of 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 vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Henagar AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of 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 flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Henagar AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Henagar AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared 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 needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Henagar AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Henagar AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Henagar AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Henagar Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Henagar was first settled circa 1855. The town is named after an early settler, George Henegar. A post office was established in 1878. It was then that a postal official misspelled the town's name as "Henagar". In 1901, a public school was built. Henagar incorporated in 1965.
Henagar is located in northern DeKalb County at 34°38′1″N 85°44′35″W / 34.63361°N 85.74306°W / 34.63361; -85.74306 (34.633700, -85.742921). Its northwest border follows the Jackson County line.
Alabama State Route 40 passes through the original center of town, leading east 8 miles (13 km) to Interstate 59 in Hammondville and west 19 miles (31 km) to Scottsboro. Alabama State Route 75 crosses AL 40 in the newer commercial part of Henagar and leads northeast 8 miles (13 km) to Ider and southwest 10 miles (16 km) to Rainsville.
Select the Best Truck Driver School Henagar AL
Choosing the right truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning 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 vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to think about 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 CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company 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 part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Henagar AL.
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