How to Select a Trucking School near Pleasant Grove Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Pleasant Grove AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to examine before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Pleasant Grove home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal method to make certain you’ll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams 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 remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Pleasant Grove AL, an operator must attain 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. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Pleasant Grove AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Pleasant Grove AL area are accredited due to the demanding 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 required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Pleasant Grove AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality 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 trucking 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 trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Pleasant Grove AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies 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. Get in touch with the Pleasant Grove AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different 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 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 only way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Pleasant Grove AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Pleasant Grove AL school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Pleasant Grove AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Pleasant Grove AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Pleasant Grove AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Pleasant Grove Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Pleasant Grove, Alabama
It was established in 1889, but incorporated as a city in January 1937. The incorporation came about by reason of a rather unusual circumstance. The town sits on land honeycombed by coal mines. For many years the residents had relied on water wells for their water supply. As years passed and more mining was done, Pleasant Grove found itself confronted with a problem. Residents would sometimes go to their well to draw water only to find there was none. The water had gone into the mines.
During the mid to late 30s, the Federal Government had a program for financing the building of local water systems. In exploring the possibility of securing such funds, it was revealed that in order to secure such financing a community must be legally incorporated. At this time the incorporation became a reality.
The first appointed Mayor of Pleasant Grove was W.P. Stone. The city is governed by a mayor and five council members who serve four-year terms. Elections for city officials is held during the summer of each leap year with four-year terms beginning the first Monday in October. The area known as Pleasant Grove, Alabama was first homesteaded in September 1836. Pleasant Grove is in Jefferson County. Although no one seems to know when or exactly how the town came by its name, old documents indicate that at least part of this area was called Pleasant Grove as early as 1884. Pleasant Grove was made up of four communities which included Frog Pond, Lizard Ridge, Cottage Hill, and Pleasant Grove.
Pick the Best Truck Driving School Pleasant Grove AL
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to beginning 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 a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower 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 company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Pleasant Grove AL.
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