How to Decide on the Best Trucker School near East Florence Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near East Florence AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your East Florence residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to make certain you'll obtain the appropriate education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and East Florence AL, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic 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 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 CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 Commercial Drivers License is required 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucker School
When you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the East Florence AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the East Florence AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top East Florence AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next 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 obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning 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 period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most East Florence AL schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no replacement 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 can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the East Florence AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the East Florence AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the East Florence AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many East Florence AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other East Florence 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 reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Best East Florence AL Truck Driving Training
Choosing the right trucking school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need 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 choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in East Florence AL.