How to Select a Truck Driver School near Excel Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Excel AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Excel home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll receive the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick 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 Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Excel AL, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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. Several 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 need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Excel AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Excel AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Excel AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next 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 personalized 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 professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Excel AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, 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 actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Excel AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular 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 rather than having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Excel AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Excel AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Excel AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Excel AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Excel AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Excel Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Excel is the birthplace of former University of Alabama and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Lee Roy Jordan. Excel High School (3A) provides education for children in and around the town of Excel. Businesses within the town include Dollar General, post office, a "do-it-yourself" car wash, a laundromat, hardware store, a locally-run diner and one bank.
As of the census of 2010, there were 723 people, 270 households, and 205 families residing in the town. The population density was 425.3 people per square mile (168.1/km2). There were 295 housing units at an average density of 173.5 per square mile (68.6/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 91.1% White, 5.0% Black or African American, 1.4% Native American, 0.1% some other race, and 2.4% from two or more races. 0.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 270 households out of which 41.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.6% were headed by married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.1% were non-families. 21.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.4% were someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68, and the average family size was 3.11.
Pick the Best Truck Driver School Excel AL
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge 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. Most importantly, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Excel AL.
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