How to Find a CDL Driving School near Courtland Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Courtland AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Courtland residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll obtain the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Courtland AL, an operator must 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 select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and 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 descriptions 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. Some 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 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. Several 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Courtland AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you should research while performing 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 Courtland AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace 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 recognize 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 program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Courtland AL schools had to start from their opening 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 supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, 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 personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Courtland AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some 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? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Courtland AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement 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 provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Courtland AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Courtland AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Courtland AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Courtland AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Courtland AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Courtland Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Courtland is a town in Lawrence County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Decatur Metropolitan Area, as well as the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. The population was 609 at the 2010 census, down from 769 in 2000.
A small creek named Big Nance Creek runs through the town. The creek was named for a Cherokee chief who lived in the area upon arrival of the first European settlers. The current town is reportedly located on the site of the Native American village.
Courtland began as a small settlement known as Ebenezer in the early 1800s. In 1818, a group known as the Courtland Land Company bought the land on which the town is now situated and subdivided it into lots. The town was incorporated on December 13, 1819, by the Alabama territorial legislature. The town was named for having a federal courthouse and land office in the early 19th century. Its early settlers were wealthy planters mostly from Virginia, Tennessee, the Carolinas and Georgia.
Select the Best Truck Driver School Courtland AL
Choosing the right truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select 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 decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Courtland AL.
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