How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Maplesville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Maplesville AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Maplesville residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to ensure you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Maplesville AL, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type 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 of the 2 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 more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 required 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. Several 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Maplesville AL truck driving schools that you are considering. 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 sole concerns. Other variables, for instance 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 need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Maplesville AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Maplesville AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Maplesville AL schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Maplesville AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, 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. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Maplesville AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Maplesville AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Maplesville AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Maplesville AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Maplesville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Maplesville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
The town of Maplesville first began to grow in a location 3 miles (5 km) east of its present location, near Mulberry Creek. European settlers migrated to the area from Georgia and the Carolinas following the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in 1814, after the Native Americans who had been living there were defeated. The town was named after Stephen W. Maples, a merchant and the town's first postmaster.
The town was located at the crossroads of two important trading routes: the Elyton Road from Selma to Birmingham, and the Fort Jackson Road from Tuscaloosa to Montgomery. By 1850, the original town of Maplesville had a population of 809. The town had two horse-racing tracks, which brought visitors to the town, and had several inns and taverns to accommodate the stagecoach traffic.
The original town site began to decline in the early 1850s, after two railway lines were completed 3 miles west of the town. The Selma, Rome, and Dalton Railroad completed their line in 1850, and the Alabama & Tennessee River Railway followed in 1853. That same year, a depot was constructed at that location. Residents and businesspeople from the original Maplesville began moving closer to the railroad, and when the Maplesville Post Office was relocated to the railroad town in 1856, the new town was renamed Maplesville. The original town site gradually became deserted, and all that remains today is the Old Maplesville Cemetery along Route 191.
Choose the Best CDL School Maplesville AL
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to starting 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 several options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to think about 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 trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Maplesville AL.
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