How to Decide on a CDL Driving School near Eufaula Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Eufaula AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps 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 get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Eufaula residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal method to ensure you’ll receive the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Eufaula AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the 2 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 drivers may be able to operate 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. A few 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 operate certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Eufaula AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Eufaula AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost 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 a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Eufaula AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Eufaula AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few 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.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, 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 real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important 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. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Eufaula AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Eufaula AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available 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 competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Eufaula AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Eufaula AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Eufaula AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Eufaula AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Eufaula Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
The site along the Chattahoochee River that is now modern-day Eufaula was occupied by three Creek tribes, including the Eufaulas.:3 By the 1820s the land was part of the Creek Indian Territory and supposedly off-limits to white settlement.:4 By 1827 enough illegal white settlement had occurred that the Creeks appealed to the federal government for protection of their property rights. In July of that year, federal troops were sent to the Eufaula area to remove the settlers by force of arms, a conflict known as the "Intruders War".:4
The Creeks signed the Treaty of Washington in 1826, ceding most of their land in Georgia and eastern Alabama to the United States, but it was not fully effective in practice until the late 1820s. The 1832 Treaty of Cusseta, by which the Creeks ceded all land east of the Mississippi River to the United States, allowed white settlers to legally buy land from the Creek. However, the treaty's terms did not require any natives to relocate. By 1835 the land on which the town was built had been mostly purchased by white settlers, and had a store, owned in part by William Irwin, after whom the new settlement was named "Irwinton".:5
Significant numbers of Jewish settlers came to Eufala in the middle of the nineteenth century from Germany and from neighboring states. The community founded a cemetery; the first burial took place in 1845.
Select the Ideal Truck Driving School Eufaula AL
Selecting the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Eufaula AL.
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