Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Orange Beach AL

How to Find a Truck Driving School near Orange Beach Alabama

Orange Beach AL truck driving school campusCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Orange Beach AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Orange Beach residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best method to make certain you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 balance 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 Require?

long haul tractor trailer in Orange Beach ALTo drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Orange Beach AL, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes 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 driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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 brief explanations for the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.

How to Assess a Truck Driver School

Questions to ask Orange Beach AL truck driving schoolsOnce you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Orange Beach AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Orange Beach AL area are accredited due to the demanding 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. 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 best of Orange Beach AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to verify 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 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 not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially 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 drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Orange Beach AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.

How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Orange Beach AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Orange Beach AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Orange Beach AL school you select 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 commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Orange Beach AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Orange Beach AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Orange Beach AL?

If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Orange Beach Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.

Orange Beach, Alabama

Orange Beach is located along the Gulf of Mexico, and is the easternmost community on Alabama's Gulf Coast, with Florida's Perdido Key bordering it to the east. The city of Gulf Shores is to the west.

As of the census[6] of 2010, there were 5,441 people, 2,492 households, and 1,544 families residing in the city. The population density was 370 per square mile (140/km2). There were 11,726 housing units at an average density of 737.5 per square mile (284.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.3% White, 0.6% Black or African American, 0.7% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 1.4% from other races, and 2.2% from two or more races. 2.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 2,492 households out of which 21.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.2% were married couples living together, 7.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.0% were non-families. 30.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.70.

Choose the Right CDL School Orange Beach AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Orange Beach ALPicking the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge 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 obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to think about 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 choose an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Orange Beach AL.

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