How to Choose a Trucking School near Mckenzie Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Mckenzie AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Mckenzie home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to make sure you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge 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 choose 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 ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Mckenzie AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose 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). Following are short summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Mckenzie AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Mckenzie AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards 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 negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Mckenzie AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have 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 placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
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 instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes 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 Mckenzie AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Mckenzie AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Mckenzie AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Mckenzie 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 willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Mckenzie AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Mckenzie AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Mckenzie AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Mckenzie Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Benjamin McKenzie Schenkkan (born September 12, 1978), known professionally as Ben McKenzie, is an American actor and director. He is known as Ryan Atwood in the television series The O.C. and as Ben Sherman in Southland. He appeared in the films Junebug and 88 Minutes. His first starring role in a feature film was in the 2008 indie release Johnny Got His Gun. Since 2014, McKenzie has been starring as James Gordon in the television series Gotham.
Benjamin McKenzie Schenkkan was born in Austin, Texas. He is of Dutch-Jewish, English, and Scottish descent. He is one of three boys born to Frances Victory Schenkkan, a poet, and Pieter Meade "Pete" Schenkkan, an attorney. His middle name, McKenzie, is his paternal grandmother's maiden name. His grandfather, Robert F. Schenkkan, was a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and worked with President Lyndon B. Johnson on passing the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. He is a nephew of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan, Jr.
For middle school, he attended St. Andrew's Episcopal School, where he was friends and flag football teammates with future Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees. He attended Stephen F. Austin High School, playing wide receiver and defensive back for the school's football team. From 1997–2001, he attended the University of Virginia, his father and paternal grandfather's alma mater, where he majored in foreign affairs and economics. He uses his middle name as his stage name to avoid confusion with actor Ben Shenkman.
Choose the Best Truck Driver School Mckenzie AL
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Mckenzie AL.
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