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How to Enroll in the Best Trucker School near Enterprise Alabama

Enterprise Alabama tractor trailer on side of roadCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Enterprise AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages 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 assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Enterprise home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you'll get 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 professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which CDL Should You Get?

Enterprise Alabama concrete mixer

In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Enterprise AL, a driver must attain 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 Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are short explanations of the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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. A few 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 need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.

How to Research a Truck Driver School

Enterprise Alabama CDL school campus

When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Enterprise AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Enterprise AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical 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. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Enterprise AL schools had to begin 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 relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.

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 cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Enterprise AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide plenty of 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 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 be. Although driving time differs among 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. Contact the Enterprise AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Enterprise AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Enterprise AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 responsibilities.

Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Enterprise AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Enterprise 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.

Find Out More About Enterprise CDL Driving Schools

Enroll in the Best Enterprise AL Truck Driving Training

Selecting the right trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success.  But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Enterprise AL.