How to Select a Trucking School near Headland Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Headland AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to examine before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Headland residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick 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 talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Headland AL, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses 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 driving 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 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 more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Headland AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Headland AL area are accredited due to the rigorous 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate 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 be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Headland AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, 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 look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Headland AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish lots of 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Headland AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Headland AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available 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 battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Headland AL school you choose 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 instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Headland AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Headland AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Headland AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Headland Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Headland is the largest city in Henry County, Alabama, United States. It is part of the Dothan, Alabama metropolitan area. At the 2010 census the population was 4,510, up from 3,523 at the 2000 census. Ray Marler is the current mayor.
The Headland Public Square was laid off in 1871 by J.J. Head with a vision for a branch courthouse. Henry County voters decided in the 1879 and 1885 courthouse site elections not to locate a courthouse on the public square. Henry has been Alabama's only county with three courthouses at the same time.
Headland incorporated in 1884 with 26 white and 4 black petitioners. The railroad was built in 1893 along with the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Depot. The depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 4, 1980. It has since been disassembled.
Choose the Best Truck Driver School Headland AL
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is a critical 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 crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Headland AL.
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