How to Choose a CDL Training School near Reform Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Reform AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Reform residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal means to make certain you’ll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective 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 target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Reform AL, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are short descriptions of the two 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 more 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Reform AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are a few more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Reform AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Reform AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Reform AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of 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 important that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some 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.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard 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 Reform AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Reform AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Reform 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 particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Reform AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Reform AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Reform AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Reform Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Sparsely settled after statehood, Reform first received a post office in 1841. It wasn't incorporated until March 2, 1898, following the community getting train service via the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. According to tradition, the community was named from an incident when an evangelist paid the new settlement a visit, imploring the first settlers to "reform".
In May 1968, a mule train, part of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference sponsored Poor People's Campaign, stopped for two days in Reform before heading to Tuscaloosa, Alabama on its way to Washington, DC.
On August 31, 2017, the area was hit by an EF2 tornado. The tornado touched down near Reform and tracked through Pickens, Lamar, and Fayette counties. Significant damage was also caused in the nearby community of Palmetto. http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/09/national_weather_service_to_su.html
Select the Right Truck Driving School Reform AL
Selecting the right truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance 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 offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Reform AL.
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