How to Pick a Truck Driver School near Frankville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Frankville AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Frankville residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal means to make sure you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge 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 decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder 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 Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Frankville AL, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 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. 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 certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Frankville AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Frankville AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess 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 stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Frankville AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is especially 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Frankville AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential 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 successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some 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? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide ample 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 essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Frankville AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific 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 maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Frankville AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several 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 looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Frankville AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending 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 received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start 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 national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Frankville AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Frankville AL area vocational or trade 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 aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Frankville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Frankville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Washington County, Alabama
Washington County is a county in the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population was 17,581. The county seat is Chatom. The county was named in honor of George Washington, the first President of the United States. It is a dry county, with the exception of Chatom.
The area of today's Washington County was long inhabited by various indigenous people. In historic times, European traders encountered first Choctaw and later Creek Indians, who had moved southwest from Georgia as early European settlers encroached on their land.
Washington County was organized on June 4, 1800 from the Tombigbee District of the Mississippi Territory by proclamation of territorial governor Winthrop Sargent. It was the first county organized in what would later become Alabama, as settlers moved westward after the American Revolutionary War. Washington County is the site of St. Stephens, the first territorial capital of Alabama. In 1807 former U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr was arrested at Wakefield in Washington County, during his flight from being prosecuted for alleged treason (which he was eventually found innocent of).
Pick the Right Trucking School Frankville AL
Choosing the right truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL 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 decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Frankville AL.
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