Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Ethelsville AL

How to Select a CDL Training School near Ethelsville Alabama

Ethelsville AL truck driving school campusCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Ethelsville AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Ethelsville home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?

long haul tractor trailer in Ethelsville ALTo drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Ethelsville AL, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations for 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. 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 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 drive specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.

How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School

Questions to ask Ethelsville AL truck driving schoolsOnce you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Ethelsville AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Ethelsville AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, 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 several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Ethelsville AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch 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 instructors 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 greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention 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 train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Ethelsville AL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.

Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish lots of 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable 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 Ethelsville AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified 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 having 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 free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Ethelsville AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV views 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 Ethelsville AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Ethelsville AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Ethelsville AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Ethelsville AL?

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

Ethelsville, Alabama

Ethelsville is a town in Pickens County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town was 81, unchanged from 2000. The town was named after Ethel Hancock, a one time resident and staple of the community. It was incorporated in 1952.[3]

As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 81 people, 37 households, and 23 families residing in the town. The population density was 143.2 people per square mile (54.9/km2). There were 43 housing units at an average density of 76.0 per square mile (29.1/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 86.42% White and 13.58% Black or African American.

There were 37 households out of which 21.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.9% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.8% were non-families. 29.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.74.

Pick the Right Truck Driver School Ethelsville AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Ethelsville ALPicking the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Ethelsville AL.

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