How to Decide on a CDL Driving School near Oneonta Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Oneonta AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Oneonta home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills 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? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Oneonta AL, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply 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 highlight 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). Below are short summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 required 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. 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, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Oneonta AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Oneonta AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Oneonta AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover 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 greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention 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 professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Oneonta AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit 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 satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish sufficient 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Oneonta AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Oneonta AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Oneonta AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at 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 companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Oneonta AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Oneonta AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Oneonta AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Oneonta Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Oneonta is a city in Blount County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 6,567. The city is the county seat of Blount County. Oneonta is home to the Covered Bridge Festival.
A post office called Oneonta has been in operation since 1889. The city was named after Oneonta, New York, the native home of a railroad official. In 1889, the county seat was transferred to Oneonta from Blountsville.
Oneonta is located in eastern Blount County at 33°56'32.291" North, 86°28'43.586" West (33.942303, -86.478774). It is situated in Murphree Valley between Red Mountain and Sand Mountain to the northwest and Straight Mountain to the southeast.
Select the Right CDL School Oneonta AL
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation 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 a number of options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving 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 regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Oneonta AL.
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