How to Decide on a CDL Training School near Graysville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Graysville AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Graysville residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to make sure you’ll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Graysville AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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 short summaries for the two 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 more 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Graysville AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Graysville AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Graysville AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. 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, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining 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 teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Graysville AL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Graysville AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Graysville AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Graysville AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Graysville AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Graysville 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 assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Graysville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Graysville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, this city was called Gin Town. Because it had the only cotton gin for miles around, the community grew. It incorporated as Graysville initially in 1897. As the town grew, the need for businesses and houses of worship grew as well. One street over from this site, the Union Church was established in the early 1900s. All people of all denominations met and worshiped there as it was the only church for miles around. In 1927, the town charter was revoked on the grounds of "inactivity."
This city was reincorporated on November 17, 1945. The first meeting of the town council took place at the old school house on January 16, 1946. Later that year, the original city council established the Graysville Water Works system. In 1949, the city council established the Graysville Gas Board which eventually became the Graysville Municipal Gas System. During the 1950s and 1960s, the local coal mines and steel mills attracted families from all over Alabama. As a result of this growth, Graysville established the City’s first series of home developments and subdivisions. During the 1980s and 1990s, Graysville expanded its city limits by annexing multiple acres in what was then unincorporated in Jefferson County.
Graysville is located at 33°37′37″N 86°57′44″W / 33.62694°N 86.96222°W / 33.62694; -86.96222 (33.626955, -86.962255). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.3 square miles (16 km2), all land.
Choose the Best Truck Driver School Graysville AL
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. 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 Graysville AL.
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