How to Enroll in the Best Trucker Classes near Homewood Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Homewood AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Homewood home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best method to make certain you'll receive the proper education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Homewood AL, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select 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). Following are short summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 CDL is needed 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 may also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Homewood AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Homewood AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue 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 best of Homewood AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Homewood AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Homewood AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations 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 giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Homewood AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Homewood AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an 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 going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Homewood AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Homewood AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Find Out More About Homewood CDL Driver Schools
Select the Right Homewood AL Truck Driver Training
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation 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 several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Homewood AL.