How to Select a Truck Driver School near Lester Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Lester AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Lester home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to ensure you’ll obtain the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills 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 select 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 eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Lester AL, an operator needs to get 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 topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief 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. 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 needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Lester AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are some more 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 trucking schools in the Lester AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Lester AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is especially 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 be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Lester AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify 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 developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots of 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Lester AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining 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 free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Lester AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Lester AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Lester AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Lester AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Lester AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Lester Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Jonathan Tyler Lester (born January 7, 1984) is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played in MLB for the Boston Red Sox from 2006 to 2014 and the Oakland Athletics in 2014. Less than two years after being diagnosed with lymphoma, Lester started and won the final game of the 2007 World Series for the Red Sox, and in May 2008, pitched a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals. He helped lead the Red Sox to another championship in 2013 and he won the 2016 World Series with the Cubs.
Lester attended Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma, Washington. Playing for the school's baseball team, Lester was a three-time MVP and three-time All-Area selection. In addition, he was named Gatorade State Player of the Year for Washington in 2000.
The Red Sox selected Lester in the second round, with the 57th overall selection, of the 2002 Major League Baseball draft and gave him the highest signing bonus of any second-rounder that year, $1 million.
Select the Right Truck Driving School Lester AL
Choosing the right truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to consider 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 CDL 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 soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Lester AL.
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