How to Select a Truck Driver School near Pansey Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Pansey AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Pansey home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to make certain you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Pansey AL, a driver must obtain 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 subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and 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 brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 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 might also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Pansey AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Pansey AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Pansey AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask 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 maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, 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 trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning 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 relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Pansey AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. 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 ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide plenty 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Pansey AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, 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. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce 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 Pansey AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent 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 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 advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Pansey AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Pansey AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Pansey AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Pansey AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Pansey Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Houston County, Alabama
Houston County is a county located in the southeastern corner of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 101,547. Its county seat is Dothan, which is located on the border and partially in adjacent Henry County.
Houston County was established on February 9, 1903, from parts of Dale, Geneva and Henry counties. It was named after George Smith Houston, the 24th Governor of Alabama. This area of the state was historically developed for cotton plantations and had a high proportion of African-Americans in the population until after the early 20th century, when many migrated to northern and midwestern cities for better economic opportunities and to escape Jim Crow oppression.
As of the census of 2000, there were 88,787 people, 35,834 households, and 25,119 families residing in the county. The population density was 153 people per square mile (59/km2). There were 39,571 housing units at an average density of 68 per square mile (26/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 73.08% White, 24.60% Black or African American, 0.37% Native American, 0.62% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.39% from other races, and 0.92% from two or more races. 1.26% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Select the Right Trucking School Pansey AL
Choosing the right truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need 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 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 decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Pansey AL.
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