How to Pick a CDL Training School near Pennington Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Pennington AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Pennington home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to make certain you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Pennington AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 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 CDL 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 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Pennington AL trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Pennington AL area are accredited because of 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 calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Pennington AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following 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 personalized attention they will need. This is especially 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Pennington AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s imperative 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 an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few 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.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will furnish plenty 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Pennington AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide 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 flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Pennington AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Pennington AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask 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 referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Pennington AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Pennington AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Pennington AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Pennington Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
As of the census of 2000, there were 353 people, 142 households, and 103 families residing in the town. The population density was 188.6 people per square mile (72.9/km²). There were 197 housing units at an average density of 105.3 per square mile (40.7/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 64.31% White, 34.84% Black or African American, 0.28% Native American, 0.57% from other races.
There were 142 households out of which 35.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.2% were married couples living together, 15.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.8% were non-families. 26.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the town, the population was spread out with 28.6% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.6 males.
Pick the Best Truck Driving School Pennington AL
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation 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 a number of options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even 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 firm 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 soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Pennington AL.
More Trucking Locations in Alabama