How to Pick a CDL Driving School near Fort Rucker Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Fort Rucker AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Fort Rucker residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to make certain you’ll get the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Fort Rucker AL, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed 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. A few 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Fort Rucker AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Fort Rucker 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 several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Fort Rucker AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching 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 cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is especially 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 comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Fort Rucker AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques 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 vital that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Fort Rucker AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Fort Rucker AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Fort Rucker AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Fort Rucker AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Fort Rucker AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Fort Rucker AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Fort Rucker Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Fort Rucker is a U.S. Army post located mostly in Dale County, Alabama, United States. It was named for a Civil War officer, Confederate General Edmund Rucker. The post is the primary flight training base for Army Aviation and is home to the United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence (USAACE) and the United States Army Aviation Museum. Small sections of the post also lie in Coffee, Geneva, and Houston counties. Part of the Dale County section of the base is a census-designated place; its population was 4,636 at the 2010 census.
The main post has entrances from three bordering cities, Daleville, Ozark and Enterprise. In the years before the September 11, 2001 attacks, the main post (except airfields and other restricted areas) was an open post with unmanned gates allowing civilians to drive through. Following the attacks, this policy was changed, and the post is now closed to unauthorized traffic and visitors.
The U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence is the dominant military facility at Fort Rucker. Training, doctrine, and testing are all key parts of the Center's mission to develop Army Aviation's capabilities. All Army Aviation training has been undertaken at Fort Rucker since 1973, as well as training of US Air Force and ally helicopter pilots and air crew. The Center is home to the US Army Aviation Technical Test Center (ATTC), which conducts developmental aircraft testing for Army Aviation. The United States Army Operational Test and Evaluation Command's Test and Evaluation Coordination Office and TH-67 primary and instrument training are both located at Cairns Army Airfield.
Choose the Right Truck Driving School Fort Rucker AL
Picking the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new profession 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 a number of options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to consider 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 driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Fort Rucker AL.
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