How to Pick a CDL Training School near Honoraville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Honoraville AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Honoraville home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Honoraville AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class 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). Following are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 needed to drive 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. A few 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 operate certain kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Honoraville AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional things that you should research while performing 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 Honoraville AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, 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 a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Honoraville AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply 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 profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Honoraville AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously 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 requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good 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 Honoraville AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Honoraville AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? 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 considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Honoraville AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared 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 fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Honoraville AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Honoraville AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Honoraville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Honoraville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Crenshaw County, Alabama
Crenshaw County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. It is south from the Montgomery metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, the population was 13,906. Its county seat is Luverne. Its name is in honor of an Alabama judge, Anderson Crenshaw.
Crenshaw County was established after the American Civil War on November 30, 1866, by the Reconstruction era legislature. It was formed from parts of Butler, Coffee, Covington, Pike and Lowndes counties. While part of the coastal area, this county had relatively infertile soils, limiting cotton and other agriculture. Its planters used enslaved African Americans for all needed types of labor. Many of their descendants stayed in the area, and nearly one-quarter of the county population is African American.
Crenshaw County became a center of timbering in the Piney Wood region, especially after the Montgomery and Florida Railroad Company constructed a line through the county in 1886. This provided transport to markets for timber. It connected with Sprague Junction in Montgomery County, Alabama. The timber camps were rough work areas where racial tensions sometimes flared.
Choose the Best Trucking School Honoraville AL
Picking the ideal trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to look into 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 truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Honoraville AL.
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