How to Decide on a CDL Driving School near Alton Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Alton AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Alton residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Alton AL, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes 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 driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Alton AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Alton AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Alton AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters 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 trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Alton AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver 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 operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Alton AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver 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 provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Alton AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Alton AL school you select offers 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 instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Alton AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Alton AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Alton AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Alton Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Alton "Big Al" Carson
Alton "Big Al" Carson (born October 2, 1953) is an American blues and jazz singer from New Orleans. He has performed with his band, the Blues Masters, in New Orleans, and has performed with other bands.
He formerly played tuba  in addition to singing. Carson performed and recorded with multiple jazz and brass bands in New Orleans, including under the leadership of Doc Paulin , Lars Edegran , and Dr. Michael White.
Pick the Right Truck Driving School Alton AL
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Alton AL.
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