How to Select a CDL Training School near Geneva Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Geneva AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. 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 examine prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Geneva home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate 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 select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Geneva AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 required 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. Several 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 operate specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Geneva AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Geneva AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense 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 several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving 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. On the other hand, even the top Geneva AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Geneva AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of 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 instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Geneva AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment 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 instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Geneva AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Geneva AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Geneva AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Geneva AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask 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 submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Geneva AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Geneva Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Geneva is a city in and the county seat of Geneva County, Alabama, United States. It was incorporated in 1875. It is part of the Dothan, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area. Since 1940, it has been the largest city of Geneva County, and had a population of 4,452 as of the 2010 census.
In late December 1862, the stern-wheel steamship Bloomer was in port on the Choctawhatchee River in Geneva. She was captured by a group of Union troops from the 91st New York Volunteers led by Lieutenant James H. Stewart. The Bloomer was then taken to Pensacola, Florida.
Geneva is located south of the center of Geneva County at 31°2′17″N 85°52′36″W / 31.03806°N 85.87667°W / 31.03806; -85.87667 (31.038181, -85.876677), at the confluence of the Pea River with the Choctawhatchee River. Alabama State Route 52 passes through the city north of downtown, leading northeast 11 miles (18 km) to Hartford and northwest 12 miles (19 km) to Samson. Dothan is 34 miles (55 km) to the northeast via Route 52. Alabama State Route 27 passes through the center of Geneva, leading north 22 miles (35 km) to Enterprise and southwest 5 miles (8 km) to the Florida border.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driving School Geneva AL
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local 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 offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Geneva AL.
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