Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Russellville AL

How to Decide on a Truck Driver School near Russellville Alabama

Russellville AL truck driving school campusCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Russellville AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Russellville home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll receive the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.

Which CDL Will You Require?

long haul tractor trailer in Russellville ALIn order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Russellville AL, an operator needs to 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. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations for the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.

How to Assess a Trucking School

Questions to ask Russellville AL truck driving schoolsWhen you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Russellville AL trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Russellville AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Russellville AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Russellville AL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.

How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish plenty of 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Russellville AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Russellville AL schools you are considering are independent or captive 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 permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Russellville AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out 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 Russellville AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Russellville AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask 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 Russellville AL?

If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Russellville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.

Russellville, Alabama

Russellville is a city in Franklin County in the U.S. state of Alabama. At the 2010 census, the population of the city was 9,830,[4] up from 8,971 at the 2000 census. The city is the county seat of Franklin County.

After the War of 1812, the U.S. government appropriated money to improve a route from Nashville to New Orleans. It was named Jackson's Military Road after Andrew Jackson, and it passed through what became Russellville. (Present-day Jackson Avenue and Jackson Highway, U.S. Route 43, follow portions of the original road.)[5]

Russellville is named after Major William Russell,[6] an early settler in the area who helped in the construction of Jackson's Military Road. The town grew at this road's intersection with the Gaines Trace.

Choose the Right Truck Driver School Russellville AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Russellville ALPicking the right truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Russellville AL.

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