How to Find a Trucking School near River Falls Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near River Falls AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your River Falls residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal means to make sure you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That 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 eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and River Falls AL, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 greater 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 need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the River Falls AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly 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 if not more important. So following are several additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the River Falls AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to 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 business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of River Falls AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. 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 obtaining the personal instruction 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most River Falls AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide sufficient 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important 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. Although driving time varies among 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 River Falls AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of 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 having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the River Falls AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the River Falls AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained 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 considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few River Falls AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other River Falls AL area trade or technical 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 aid 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 River Falls AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the River Falls Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
River Falls, Alabama
River Falls is located 5 miles (8 km) northwest of Andalusia, the county seat, at 31°21′N 86°32′W / 31.350°N 86.533°W / 31.350; -86.533 (31.3519, -86.5367). The town lies along the Conecuh River. A hydroelectric dam creating Point A Lake on the river is located at the northeast corner of the town. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 7.1 square miles (18.4 km2), of which 6.8 square miles (17.7 km2) is land and 0.27 square miles (0.7 km2), or 3.67%, is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 616 people, 272 households, and 174 families residing in the town. The population density was 88.9 people per square mile (34.3/km²). There were 307 housing units at an average density of 44.3 per square mile (17.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 62.50% White, 36.04% Black or African American, 0.65% Native American, and 0.81% from two or more races. 0.81% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 272 households out of which 27.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.3% were married couples living together, 14.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.0% were non-families. 34.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.89.
Select the Ideal Trucking School River Falls AL
Picking the right truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in River Falls AL.
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