How to Choose the Best CDL Driving Classes near Daphne Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Daphne AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career 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 evaluating your options, there are various variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Daphne home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to make sure you'll receive the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn 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 discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Daphne AL, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucker School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Daphne AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Daphne AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Daphne AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Daphne AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish ample 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Daphne AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Daphne AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Daphne AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time 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 employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Daphne AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Daphne AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Daphne AL Truck Driving Training
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Daphne AL.