Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Dawson AL

How to Find a Truck Driving School near Dawson Alabama

Dawson AL truck driving school campusCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Dawson AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Dawson home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you’ll receive the right training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?

long haul tractor trailer in Dawson ALTo drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Dawson AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply 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 highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions of the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.

How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School

Questions to ask Dawson AL truck driving schoolsAfter you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Dawson AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Dawson AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested 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 calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks 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 operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Dawson AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching 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 teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Dawson AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher 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 teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.

How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Dawson AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide 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 giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Dawson AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Dawson 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 particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing 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 fit in working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Dawson AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Dawson AL area vocational or trade 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 Dawson AL?

If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Dawson Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.

Dawson, Alabama

Pick the Right CDL School Dawson AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Dawson ALPicking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary 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 want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Dawson AL.

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