How to Choose a CDL Training School near Collinsville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Collinsville AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream 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 good wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Collinsville residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills 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 select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Collinsville AL, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify 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 discuss 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). Below are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 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 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. Some 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 need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Collinsville AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Collinsville AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated 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 Collinsville AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Collinsville AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some 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.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide plenty 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Collinsville AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Collinsville AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing 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 facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Collinsville AL school you choose offers 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 teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads 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 Collinsville AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Collinsville AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Collinsville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Collinsville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Collinsville is a town in DeKalb and Cherokee counties in the U.S. state of Alabama. It was incorporated in 1887. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,983. The town is a part of the Gadsden, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Collinsville is located in southern DeKalb County at 34°15'55.555" North, 85°51'41.483" West (34.265432, -85.861523). A small portion extends southeast along Alabama State Route 68 into Cherokee County. The town is located in the Little Wills Valley, between Lookout Mountain to the east and the smaller Big Ridge to the west.
As of the 2010 census Collinsville had a population of 1,983. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 44.9% non-Hispanic white, 9.0% black or African American, 1.1% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 2.1% Pacific Islander (all of whom where Guamanian or Chamorro), 36.8% reporting some other race and 3.0% from two or more races. 43.1% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Select the Best Truck Driving School Collinsville AL
Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker 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 no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Collinsville AL.
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