How to Find a Truck Driver School near Houston Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Houston AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Houston residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss 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 Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Houston AL, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person 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 address 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 descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. Several 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 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. Some 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Houston AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are some more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Houston AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Houston AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. 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 receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Houston AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish plenty 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Houston AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Houston AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 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 reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Houston AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. 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 holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new career. 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 local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Houston AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Houston 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 assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Houston AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Houston Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
2018 Houston Astros season
The 2018 Houston Astros season is the 57th season for the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise in Houston, their 54th as the Astros, sixth in both the American League (AL) and AL West division, and 19th at Minute Maid Park. The Astros are the defending World Series champions, having won the 2017 World Series four games to three over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Houston began the season March 29 against the Texas Rangers and will finish the season on September 30 against the Baltimore Orioles. They repeated as American League West champions and will face the Cleveland Indians in the 2018 American League Division Series.
The Houston Astros entered the 2018 Major League Baseball season as defending World Series champions after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games. In addition to achieving their first-ever World Series championship, they claimed both their first American League (AL) pennant and AL West division championship. Center fielder George Springer was named the World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP) and right-handed starting pitcher Justin Verlander was the American League Championship Series (ALCS) MVP. A number of regular season and multiple-sport awards went to second baseman José Altuve, including the AL MVP,Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year,Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year, and The Sporting News Major League Player of the Year awards, among others.
On January 23, 2018, first baseman Jon Singleton and pitcher Dean Deetz were suspended after testing positive for substances violating MLB's drug policy. Singleton, a former Astros' number-one prospect, had tested positive for the third time and was banned for 100 games.
Select the Best Trucking School Houston AL
Selecting the right trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical 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 safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Houston AL.
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