How to Find a Truck Driver School near Calera Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Calera AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Calera residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to make sure you’ll obtain the right training. 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 cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Calera AL, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 select a truck driver school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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 certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Calera AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Calera AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Calera AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding 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 period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Calera AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified 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 crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide ample 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Calera AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver 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 receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Calera AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. 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 battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Calera AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Calera AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Calera AL area technical or vocational 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 assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Calera AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Calera Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
As of the 2010 census Calera had a population of 11,620, more than tripling its total in 2000, making it the fastest-growing city in Alabama. It is within the Birmingham-Hoover, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Calera is located in southern Shelby County at 33°06′27″N 86°45′00″W / 33.107572°N 86.749964°W / 33.107572; -86.749964. The city limits extend southward into Chilton County along U.S. Route 31, the main highway through the city. Interstate 65 passes through the eastern side of the city, with access from exits 228, 231, and 234.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.4 square miles (63.1 km2), of which 24.1 square miles (62.4 km2) is land and 0.27 square miles (0.7 km2), or 1.17%, is water.
Select the Best Trucking School Calera AL
Picking the right trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even 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 firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Calera AL.
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