How to Choose a Trucking School near Cleveland Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Cleveland AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Cleveland residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Cleveland AL, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 CDL is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Cleveland AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several more factors 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 trucking schools in the Cleveland AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Cleveland AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover 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 greater, then students will not be getting the personal 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 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 skillfully takes time. The majority of Cleveland AL schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Cleveland AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Cleveland AL schools you are considering are captive or independent 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 truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Cleveland AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Cleveland AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Cleveland AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Cleveland AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Cleveland Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Al Cleveland (born Alfred W. Cleveland, March 11, 1930 – August 14, 1996) was an American songwriter for the Motown label. Among his most popular co-compositions are 1967's "I Second That Emotion" and 1969's "Baby, Baby Don't Cry" performed by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles and 1971's "What's Going On" performed by Marvin Gaye.
Cleveland was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, to Alfred W. and Dorothy Cleveland. Al has two sisters, Edna Grate and Mamie Jett, as well as one brother, Robert Cleveland. His sons Alfred D Cleveland and Theodore Mills survive him. He had a long and distinguished writing career, initially for New York artists on the Scepter/Wand labels such as Dionne Warwick(e) and Tommy Hunt, as well as Gene Pitney before moving to Motown, where he provided songs for Smokey & The Miracles, the Marvelettes, David Ruffin, the Four Tops and Chuck Jackson before hitting the big time with a co-authorship of Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On?" and "Save the Children."
Select the Right Truck Driving School Cleveland AL
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new profession 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 many options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may 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 select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated 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 Cleveland AL.
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