How to Find the Best CDL Training School near Auburn Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Auburn AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Auburn residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to make certain you'll obtain the proper education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Auburn AL, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can apply 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 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 short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 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 drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Auburn AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are a few more points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Auburn AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered 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 quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Auburn AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention 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 claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Auburn AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified 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 successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish sufficient 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 training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Auburn AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff 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 some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Auburn AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. 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 convenient than contending with graduates of other 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 Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Auburn AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start 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 local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Auburn AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Auburn AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Select the Best Auburn AL CDL Training
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Auburn AL.