Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Jackson AL

How to Decide on a Truck Driver School near Jackson Alabama

Jackson AL truck driving school campusCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Jackson AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Jackson residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal means to make certain you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge 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 select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.

Which CDL Should You Get?

long haul tractor trailer in Jackson ALTo operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Jackson AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief 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 more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.

How to Research a Truck Driver School

Questions to ask Jackson AL truck driving schoolsAs soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Jackson AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are a few additional factors that you should 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 truck driving schools in the Jackson AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Jackson AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning 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 period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Jackson AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.

How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide lots of 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, 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 varies among schools, a reasonable 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 Jackson AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to 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. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Jackson 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 a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Jackson AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Jackson AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Jackson AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask 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 Jackson AL?

If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Jackson Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.

Al Jackson Jr.

Albert J. Jackson Jr.[1] (November 27, 1935 – October 1, 1975) was an American drummer, producer, and songwriter. He was a founding member of Booker T. & the M.G.'s, a group of session musicians who worked for Stax Records and produced their own instrumentals. Jackson was affectionately dubbed "The Human Timekeeper" for his drumming ability. He was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2015.

Jackson's father, Al Jackson Sr., led a jazz/swing dance band in Memphis, Tennessee. The young Jackson started drumming at an early age and began playing on stage with his father's band in 1940, at the age of five. He later played in producer and trumpeter Willie Mitchell's band and at the same time was holding down a chair in the popular Ben Branch Band.

Future bandmates Steve Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn first heard Jackson playing in Mitchell's band at the Flamingo Room, and the all-white Manhattan Club. Mitchell had also hired Booker T. Jones for his band. It was Jones who suggested Jackson be brought to Stax. He said, "You guys need to know about Al." Dunn said that Jackson almost caused his wife to divorce him, because after finishing his own gig at one o'clock, he would stop by a club to hear Jackson and would get home at four or five in the morning; "He was that good!" said Dunn. At first, Jackson was reluctant to join Stax. He felt he could make more money playing live than doing session work. He wanted a guaranteed regular salary to come over to Stax (although he continued to play on sessions produced by Mitchell for Hi Records). And so he became the first Stax session musician to be on a weekly salary.[3]

Select the Best Trucking School Jackson AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Jackson ALSelecting the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Jackson AL.

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