How to Choose a Truck Driving School near Cedar Bluff Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Cedar Bluff AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Cedar Bluff residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to make certain you’ll get the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Cedar Bluff AL, a driver must 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. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following 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 more 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Cedar Bluff AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Cedar Bluff AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Cedar Bluff AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. 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 supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, 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 trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Cedar Bluff AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish lots of 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Cedar Bluff AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships 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 be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Cedar Bluff AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other 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 Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Cedar Bluff AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. 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 obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out 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 referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Cedar Bluff AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Cedar Bluff 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Cedar Bluff AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Cedar Bluff Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Cedar Bluff, Alabama
Cedar Bluff is a town in Cherokee County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 1,820. Unlike the rest of the county, Cedar Bluff is a wet town. Cedar Bluff is located on the north shore of Weiss Lake, noted for its crappie fishing.
A post office called Cedar Bluff has been in operation since 1837. Once the county seat from about 1836 to 1844 before being removed to Centre, the city was named for groves of cedar trees above the bluffs of the nearby river.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 5.1 square miles (13.3 km2), of which 5.1 square miles (13.1 km2) is land and 0.08 square miles (0.2 km2), or 1.15%, is water. The town is bordered on the north, west, and south by Weiss Lake.
Pick the Right CDL School Cedar Bluff AL
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available 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 short on funds or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Cedar Bluff AL.
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