How to Pick a Truck Driving School near Hillsboro Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Hillsboro AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Hillsboro residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll receive the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional 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 discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Hillsboro AL, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 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 drive 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. A few 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 may also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Hillsboro AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Hillsboro AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered 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 quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? 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 normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Hillsboro AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, 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 section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized 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 insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Hillsboro AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide sufficient 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 operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Hillsboro AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Hillsboro AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other 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 Classes Accessible? As previously noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Hillsboro AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Hillsboro AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Hillsboro AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Hillsboro AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Hillsboro Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Hillsboro is a town in Lawrence County, Alabama, and is included in the Decatur Metropolitan Area, as well as the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. It was incorporated in 1899. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town is 552, down from its record high of 608 in 2000. Along with North Courtland, it is one of two majority black communities in Lawrence County out of its six populated communities as of 2010.
Hillsboro began in the late 1830s as a small community known as "Gilmersville," which was located east of the current town. The name was inspired by a family of early settlers. When the railroad was constructed through the area in the 1860s, the town shifted to its current location along the tracks. The town developed throughout the latter half of the 19th century as an important refueling stop for trains and a local shipping center. The town's name was eventually changed to "Hillsborough," and the current spelling was adopted in 1891.
Hillsboro is located at 34°38′17″N 87°11′18″W / 34.63806°N 87.18833°W / 34.63806; -87.18833 (34.638029, -87.188287). The town is concentrated along County Road 217 (Main Street) just south of the road's railroad crossing, a few miles west of Decatur, and a few miles south of Wheeler Lake. The town's municipal boundaries extend northward to U.S. Route 72.
Select the Ideal Truck Driving School Hillsboro AL
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver 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 regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Hillsboro AL.
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