How to Pick a Truck Driver School near Theodore Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Theodore AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Theodore home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the best way to make sure you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified 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 cover 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 CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Theodore AL, a driver needs to obtain 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 topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 more 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Theodore AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Theodore AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Theodore AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Theodore AL schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind 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 qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out 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 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Theodore AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Theodore AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Theodore AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Theodore AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Theodore AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Theodore AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Theodore Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Theodore is a census-designated place (CDP) in Mobile County, Alabama, United States. The population was 6,130 at the 2010 census. It is a part of the Mobile metropolitan statistical area. Prior to 1900 this area was known as Clements, but is now named for William Theodore Hieronymous (a sawmill operator and postmaster).
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,811 people, 2,483 households, and 1,926 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 571.6 people per square mile (220.6/km²). There were 2,697 housing units at an average density of 226.3 per square mile (87.4/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 71.11% White, 25.58% Black or African American, 0.62% Native American, 1.29% Asian, 0.41% from other races, and 1.00% from two or more races. 1.38% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 2,483 households out of which 38.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.6% were married couples living together, 19.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.4% were non-families. 19.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.11.
Choose the Ideal Trucking School Theodore AL
Choosing the right truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets 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 to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Theodore AL.
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