Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Salem AL

How to Pick a Truck Driver School near Salem Alabama

Salem AL truck driving school campusCongrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Salem AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Salem home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to ensure you’ll receive the right training. Just remember, your goal 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 choose 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 ultimately need.

Which CDL Should You Get?

long haul tractor trailer in Salem ALIn order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Salem AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class 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). Below are short explanations for the 2 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 greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.

How to Assess a Truck Driver School

Questions to ask Salem AL truck driving schoolsOnce you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Salem AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Salem AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One indicator 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 usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Salem AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.

How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must 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 not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Salem AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified 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 vital that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.

Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Salem AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Salem AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Salem AL school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Salem AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Salem AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Salem AL?

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

Salem al-Hazmi

Salem al-Hazmi (Arabic: سالم الحازمي‎, Sālam al-Ḥāzmī, also transliterated as Alhazmi) (February 2, 1981 – September 11, 2001) was one of five hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77 as part of the September 11 attacks.

Hazmi had a relatively long history with al-Qaeda before being selected for the attacks. He obtained a tourist visa through the Visa Express program and arrived in the United States in June 2001 where he would settle in New Jersey with other American 77 hijackers up until the attacks.

On September 11, 2001, Hazmi boarded American Airlines Flight 77 and helped subdue the passengers and crew for Hani Hanjour, the pilot among the hijackers, to crash the plane into west facade of the Pentagon. His older brother, Nawaf al-Hazmi, was another hijacker aboard the same flight. At the age of 20 years and 221 days, he was the youngest hijacker who participated in the attacks.

Choose the Best Truck Driver School Salem AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Salem ALSelecting the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical 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 cash 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 select an independent trucking 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 choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Salem AL.

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