How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Magnolia Springs Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Magnolia Springs AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Magnolia Springs home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll receive the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Magnolia Springs AL, a driver needs to 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 topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 needed to drive 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. 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 may also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Magnolia Springs AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Magnolia Springs AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked 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 Magnolia Springs AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Magnolia Springs AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish plenty 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good 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 Magnolia Springs AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Magnolia Springs AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Magnolia Springs AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Magnolia Springs AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Magnolia Springs AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid 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 Magnolia Springs AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Magnolia Springs Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Magnolia Springs, Alabama
Magnolia Springs is a town in south Baldwin County, Alabama, United States, in the Daphne–Fairhope–Foley Micropolitan Statistical Area. The town voted to incorporate in 2006. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 723.
Magnolia Springs is located at the headwaters of the Magnolia River, which was originally called River de Lin, or River del Salto by local residents. Various boats and steamships brought travelers into the area.
In May 2006 residents voted 224-96 to approve incorporation. The election results were certified by Baldwin County Probate Judge Adrian Johns on June 29, 2006. Magnolia Springs recognizes this date as the town's anniversary.
Select the Best Truck Driving School Magnolia Springs AL
Choosing the right truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate 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 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 choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated 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 truck driver in Magnolia Springs AL.
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