How to Choose a Trucking School near Vernon Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Vernon AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Vernon home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll receive the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional 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 remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Vernon AL, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss 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). Following are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 CDL is needed to operate 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. Some of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate 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 passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required 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 decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Vernon AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are several more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Vernon AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Vernon AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Vernon AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish plenty 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good 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 Vernon AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations 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 giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Vernon AL schools you are contemplating 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 truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Vernon 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 certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Vernon AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Vernon AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Vernon AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Vernon Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Vernon is a city in Lamar County, Alabama, United States. The city is the county seat of Lamar County, and previously served as the seat of its two predecessors, Jones County (not to be confused with Covington County), which briefly existed in 1867, and for Sanford County from 1868 until it was renamed Lamar in 1877. It incorporated in 1870. At the 2010 census the population was 2,000, down from 2,143 in 2000. It is the largest city in Lamar County as of 2010, and previously held the distinction in 1880 and from 1960-1990, falling to 2nd place in 2000 behind Sulligent, but since reclaiming the title.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,143 people, 953 households, and 630 families residing in the city. The population density was 362.2 people per square mile (139.8/km²). There were 1,070 housing units at an average density of 180.9 per square mile (69.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.19% White, 12.65% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.05% Asian, and 0.89% from two or more races. 0.65% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 953 households out of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.5% were married couples living together, 18.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.8% were non-families. 32.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.75.
Pick the Best CDL School Vernon AL
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Vernon AL.
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