How to Choose a Trucking School near Eldridge Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Eldridge AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Eldridge home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal method to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your objective 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 goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Eldridge AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 two 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 more 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 CDL 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. 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 may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Eldridge AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Eldridge AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical 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 know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 Operation? 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 typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Eldridge AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Eldridge AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? 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 important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach 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 satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential 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 differs between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Eldridge AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities 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 Eldridge AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Eldridge 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 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 needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Eldridge AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Eldridge AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining 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 Eldridge AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Eldridge Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
As of the census of 2000, there were 184 people, 69 households, and 52 families residing in the town. The population density was 262.9 people per square mile (101.5/km2). There were 79 housing units at an average density of 112.9 per square mile (43.6/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 95.65% White and 4.35% Black or African American. 2.17% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 69 households out of which 21.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.6% were married couples living together, 15.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.6% were non-families. 24.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.71.
In the town, the population was spread out with 28.8% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 21.2% from 25 to 44, 18.5% from 45 to 64, and 22.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 84.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 65.8 males.
Choose the Right Truck Driver School Eldridge AL
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Eldridge AL.
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