How to Choose a Truck Driving School near Horton Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Horton AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Horton home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to make sure you’ll get the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Horton AL, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can apply 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 focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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 greater 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 might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Horton AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Horton AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Horton AL schools had to start 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 employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Horton AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Horton AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known 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 refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Horton AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Horton AL school you choose 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 instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Horton AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Horton AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Horton AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Horton Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Horton is an unincorporated community in Marshall County, Alabama, United States. Its ZIP code is 35980. As of the 2000 census, the population was approximately 4,450. The median household income was $27,536, and the per capita income was $13,342. The median value of a single-family home was $72,200.
Choose the Best Truck Driver School Horton AL
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to think about 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 truck driving 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 decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Horton AL.
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