How to Find a Truck Driver School near Ashland Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Ashland AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Ashland residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Ashland AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify 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 discuss Class A and Class 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 needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 CDL is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Ashland AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Ashland AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense 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 certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Ashland AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality 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 authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Ashland AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective 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 level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Ashland AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous 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 flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Ashland AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Ashland AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Ashland AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Ashland AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Ashland AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Ashland Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Clay County was formed by an act of the Alabama General Assembly on December 7, 1866. Less than a year later, Ashland was established as the county seat on land donated by Hollingsworth Watts for the construction of a courthouse. Ashland was incorporated in 1871 and was named for 19th century statesman Henry Clay's Kentucky estate home.
During the early years, the town grew very rapidly. The town continued to grow with the opening of Alabama's first graphite mine in 1899. When World War I ended, the market for graphite dropped drastically, thus ending the town's growth phase.
The 1930s brought the Great Depression and boll weevil to Ashland that destroyed the cotton industry. Farmers were forced to abandon what had been the community's major industry. Timber, poultry, and cabinet making became the dominant industries by the beginning of the 21st century.
Choose the Right CDL School Ashland AL
Picking the right truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker 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 get your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Ashland AL.
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