How to Select a Truck Driving School near Thomasville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Thomasville AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Thomasville residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the best way to make sure you’ll obtain the right education. Just remember, 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 objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Thomasville AL, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss 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). Below are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Thomasville AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Thomasville AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered 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 standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Thomasville AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several 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 provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no 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 concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Thomasville AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide lots 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 driving a truck. Even though 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 receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Thomasville AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Thomasville AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from 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 superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Thomasville AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Thomasville AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Thomasville AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Thomasville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Thomasville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Thomasville is a city in Clarke County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 4,209. Founded as a late 19th-century railroad town, it has transitioned over the course of more than a century into a 21st-century commercial hub. It is the childhood hometown of author and storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham.
Thomasville was founded in 1888 and incorporated on November 24 of that year. The former community of Choctaw Corner, dating back to the antebellum period, was a settlement west of what would become Thomasville, but when the merchants there learned that a railroad was going to bypass their town to the east, they decided to move their stores to be near the railroad. The former community is now inside the city limits. The tracks between Mobile and Selma were completed the same year that Thomasville began. First referred to as "Choctaw", the town was named after railroad financier and former Union Civil War general, Samuel Thomas, after he donated $500 for the construction of Thomasville's first school. The town had expanded by the end of the 19th century with numerous stores, several hotels and boarding houses, and a depot station. In 1899, what is now downtown was destroyed by a fire that burned several blocks of the wood frame buildings. Thomasville quickly rebuilt, this time in brick, and was once again flourishing by the start of World War I.
Over the next century, Thomasville continued to grow and expand. Over the years, many businesses came and others left. These included garment factories, sawmills, and cotton gins. The railroad discontinued its use of the town's depot by the 1950s, but that time also saw the opening of Thomasville's FPS-35 radar base, part of the Air Defense Command's Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, bringing in servicemen and their families. The prototype for the FPS-35 radar was developed at the Thomasville Aircraft Control and Warning Station. The 1950s also saw the planting of roses along Highway 43, the main highway through Thomasville, earning it the nickname of The City of Roses. The 1960s and 1970s saw the opening of numerous paper mills in the area, an industry that continues to be important to the economy of Thomasville today. This time also saw businesses begin to relocate from downtown to the main highway. The Thomasville Historic District was designated in 1999 by the National Register of Historic Places.
Select the Ideal Truck Driver School Thomasville AL
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape 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. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Thomasville AL.
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