How to Select a Truck Driving School near Harpersville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Harpersville AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Harpersville residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you’ll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge 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 decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover 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?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Harpersville AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 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. Some 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, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Harpersville AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Harpersville AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Harpersville AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. 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 obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes 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 Harpersville AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Harpersville AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations 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 restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Harpersville 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 permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Harpersville AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Harpersville AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Harpersville AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Harpersville AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Harpersville Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Harpersville is a town in Shelby County, Alabama, United States. According to the 1950 U.S. Census, it formally incorporated in 1943. At the 2010 census, the population was 1,637, up from 1,620 in 2000. It is located southeast of the Birmingham metro area.
Harpersville Municipal Court has been effectively taken over by Circuit Court Judge Hub Harrington as of 13 July 2012 in a case regarding Private probation. His order characterizes the municipal court as a debtors' prison and extortion racket condoned by the elected officials of Harpersville and Judicial Correction Services.
Harpersville is located at 33°19′33″N 86°25′34″W / 33.32583°N 86.42611°W / 33.32583; -86.42611 (33.325848, -86.426121). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 15.9 square miles (41 km2), of which 15.9 square miles (41 km2) is land and 0.06% is water.
Select the Best CDL School Harpersville AL
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered 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 drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Harpersville AL.
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