How to Select a Truck Driver School near Choccolocco Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Choccolocco AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to think about before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Choccolocco home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to make certain you’ll get the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Choccolocco AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and 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 summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 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. A few 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 need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Choccolocco AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Choccolocco AL area are accredited because of the rigorous 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards 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 reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Choccolocco AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing 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 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 obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning 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 comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Choccolocco AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method 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 ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide lots 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. 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 instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Choccolocco AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Choccolocco AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. 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 battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Choccolocco AL school you choose provides 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 instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage 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 not many Choccolocco AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Choccolocco AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Choccolocco AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Choccolocco Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
The community gained brief notoriety in 2001 when The Daily Show aired a piece on the "Choccolocco Monster", a part of local folklore concerning sightings of a mysterious creature in the area in the late 1960s. An October 2001 article in the Anniston Star newspaper revealed that the creature was, in fact, local resident Neal Williamson. As a teenager, Williamson would don his costume (consisting of a cow skull and a sheet) and gain the attention of passing cars by jumping out of the woods onto the roadside, often startling motorists.
Select the Ideal CDL School Choccolocco AL
Picking the right trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation 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 a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need 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 select 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 regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Choccolocco AL.
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