How to Decide on the Best Trucking Classes near Daphne Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Daphne AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Daphne home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the best way to guarantee you'll obtain the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Daphne AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 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. A few 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 require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Daphne AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Daphne AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Daphne AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors 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 higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Daphne AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking 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 operating a truck. While 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 gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Daphne AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving 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 associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Daphne AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Daphne AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Daphne AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Daphne AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Daphne AL Truck Driver Training
Picking the right truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to look into 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 many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Daphne AL.