How to Pick a CDL Training School near Douglas Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Douglas AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Douglas home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn 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 select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Douglas AL, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and 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 two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Douglas AL trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Douglas AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Douglas AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Douglas AL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods 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 professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial 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 intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide plenty of 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary between 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 Douglas AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to 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. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Douglas AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third 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 competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Douglas AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Douglas AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Douglas AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Douglas AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Douglas Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Douglas Joseph Shimshon Al-Bazi (or Doglas Yousef Al Bazi, born 1972 in Baghdad) is a Chaldean Catholic Church parish priest who has now been placed in Auckland, New Zealand, as the leader of the Chaldean Catholic congregation there.
Al-Bazi was vicar of the St. Elia (alt: Elias) Catholic Church, and the adjacent St. Elia Catholic School in the "working class" New Baghdad neighborhood of Baghdad. By 2010, the school had an 82 percent Muslim enrollment, as a result of the exodus of Christians from Iraq. In his autobiography, Norman Kember relates that Al-Bazi described his church as having been bombed ineffectively by unidentified anti-Christian elements and as a church where members of several denominations worshiped together. According to Zenit News Agency the church was attacked twice in the year before Father Douglas was kidnapped; the Father was shot during one of the attacks.
In November 2006 Father Douglas was kidnapped by an Islamist group. He was tortured and released nine days later. He suffered multiple injuries including two broken vertebrae from his spinal cord, and his face and knees were smashed using a hammer. He was released after the Chaldean Catholic Church paid $170,000 in ransom for the release of al-Bazi and Father Samy Al Raiys by their kidnappers.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driver School Douglas AL
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical 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 crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. 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 Douglas AL.
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