How to Choose a Trucking School near Union Grove Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Union Grove AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Union Grove residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Union Grove AL, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries 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 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Union Grove AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Union Grove AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Union Grove AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning 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 frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Union Grove AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may 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 teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate 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 real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Union Grove AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Union Grove AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd 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 reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Union Grove AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance 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 hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Union Grove AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Union Grove AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Union Grove AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Union Grove Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Union Grove, Alabama
Union Grove is a town in Marshall County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. Union Grove is located approximately 3 miles (5 km) from Guntersville Lake and 6 miles (10 km) from Arab. Electricity service in Union Grove is provided through Arab Electric Cooperative, which comes through the Tennessee Valley Authority. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town was 77.
As of the census of 2000, there were 94 people, 38 households, and 28 families residing in the town. The population density was 165.5 people per square mile (63.7/km²). There were 41 housing units at an average density of 72.2 per square mile (27.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.87% White, 1.06% Native American and 1.06% Asian.
There were 38 households out of which 31.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.5% were married couples living together, 7.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.3% were non-families. 21.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 2.89.
Select the Best Truck Driver School Union Grove AL
Picking the right trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation 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 a number of options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Union Grove AL.
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