How to Pick a Truck Driving School near Billingsley Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Billingsley AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Billingsley home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll obtain the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Billingsley AL, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations for 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. Some 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 needed 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 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Billingsley AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are some more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Billingsley AL area are accredited due to the demanding 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 certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Billingsley AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Billingsley AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, 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 substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Billingsley AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified 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 having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Billingsley AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive 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 looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Billingsley AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Billingsley AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Billingsley AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Billingsley AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Billingsley Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
As of the census of 2000, there were 116 people, 46 households, and 33 families residing in the town. The population density was 98.6 people per square mile (38.0/km2). There were 58 housing units at an average density of 49.3 per square mile (19.0/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 90.52% White, 6.03% Black or African American, 1.72% Native American and 1.72% Pacific Islander.
There were 46 households out of which 21.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.3% were married couples living together, 15.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.1% were non-families. 19.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the town, the population was spread out with 20.7% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 24.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 73.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.0 males.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Billingsley AL
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to look into 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 choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Billingsley AL.
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