How to Enroll in the Best Trucking Classes near Princeton Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Princeton AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Princeton home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to make certain you'll obtain the right training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Princeton AL, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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 explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 greater 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Princeton AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Princeton AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, 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 certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Princeton AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement 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 researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk 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 getting the personalized 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Princeton AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through 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? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish lots 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Princeton AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict 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 Princeton AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Princeton AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Princeton AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Princeton AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Princeton AL CDL Training
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local 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 offered and understanding them is crucial 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 professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Princeton AL.