How to Find a Trucking School near Brookside Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Brookside AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Brookside residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal means to make certain you’ll receive the right training. Don’t forget, your goal 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 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 rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Brookside AL, an operator must get 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 choose a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of 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 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 operate 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance 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 authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Brookside AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Brookside 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? 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 typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Brookside 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 pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Brookside AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out 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 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement 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 differs between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Brookside AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. 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 place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Brookside AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Brookside AL school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Brookside AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Brookside AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Brookside AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Brookside Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Brookside is a former mining town, predominantly settled by Eastern European immigrants, located in north-central Jefferson County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town was 1,363. The mayor is Roger McCondichie.
The Brookside mine was opened in 1886 by the Coalburg Coal and Coke Company. It was purchased one year later by the Sloss Iron and Steel Company as a source of fuel for their blast furnaces in Birmingham. Following the practice of the time, the mined coal was processed into coke in rows of beehive ovens banked into the hillside below the mine opening. In 1897 a Robinson-Ramsey Coal Washer was installed, increasing the efficiency of coke burning and therefore the overall efficiency of the mine. Other advanced equipment was also installed at Brookside, placing it at the forefront of mining technology in the Birmingham District at the turn of the century.
Brookside served as the headquarters for four Sloss-owned mines in the immediate area (Cardiff, Coalburg, Brazil and Brookside). Because the capacity of Brookside's processing equipment exceeded the mine output, some of the slack from the Brazil mine was brought to Brookside for washing and coking.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Brookside AL
Choosing the right truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want 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 driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Brookside AL.
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