How to Select a Truck Driver School near Ardmore Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Ardmore AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Ardmore home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to make sure you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder 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 Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Ardmore AL, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class 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). Below are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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 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. 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 drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Ardmore AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Ardmore AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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 know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 meet the very high standards 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 ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Ardmore AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized 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 relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Ardmore AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already 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 requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Ardmore AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Ardmore 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 a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Ardmore AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend 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 attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Ardmore AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Ardmore AL area technical or vocational 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 assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Ardmore AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Ardmore Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Ardmore is a town in Limestone County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Metro Area. It is home to the Saturn IB rocket at the Alabama Welcome Center, just south of the Tennessee border, on Interstate 65. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town is 1,194. It borders its sister city Ardmore, Tennessee.
The settlement was originally named Austin, after Alex Austin, who selected the location as a site for a station along the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. The railroad company later renamed the town Ardmore, for the community of Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Ardmore, Alabama was incorporated in 1922.
Ardmore is located at 34°59′13″N 86°50′36″W / 34.98694°N 86.84333°W / 34.98694; -86.84333 (34.987052, -86.843228). It is the northernmost settlement in the state of Alabama. The town is concentrated along Alabama State Route 53, which runs south to north along Ardmore Avenue before veering east along the state line, where it runs congruent with Tennessee State Route 7 on Main Street. Interstate 65, which connects Nashville and Birmingham, passes just west of Ardmore.
Select the Right Truck Driver School Ardmore AL
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered 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 drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might 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 enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Ardmore AL.
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