Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Kent AL

How to Choose a Truck Driving School near Kent Alabama

Kent AL truck driving school campusCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Kent AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Kent residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll receive the right education. Don’t forget, your objective 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 cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.

Which CDL Will You Need?

long haul tractor trailer in Kent ALIn order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Kent AL, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person 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 focus on 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 summaries for the 2 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 more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 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 might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.

How to Evaluate a CDL School

Questions to ask Kent AL truck driving schoolsAs soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Kent AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Kent AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Kent AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention 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 train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Kent AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish plenty 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Kent 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 some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called 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 work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Kent AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Kent AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Kent AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Kent AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Kent AL?

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

The Fabulous Kangaroos

The Fabulous Kangaroos was a professional wrestling tag team that existed in various forms from 1957 until 1983. The first incarnation of The Fabulous Kangaroos was formed when Italian Australian Al Costello teamed with Australia native Roy Heffernan and adopted an "Ultra Australian" gimmick complete with boomerangs, bush hats, and the song "Waltzing Matilda" as their entrance music.[1] Costello and Heffernan are arguably the most famous version of The Kangaroos,[2] regarded as one of the top tag teams to ever compete in professional wrestling,[1][3] and are often credited with popularizing tag team wrestling in the late 1950s and 1960s.[2]

Later versions of The Kangaroos saw Al Costello team with Ray St. Clair in 1967, and then with Don Kent from 1968 until 1974. Don Kent went on to team with Bruno Bekkar, and later Johnny Heffernan (a storyline cousin of Roy Heffernan) to keep The Fabulous Kangaroos name alive until 1983.[1]

The Fabulous Kangaroos made their last appearance in 1983, but almost a decade later, the then 72-year-old Al Costello managed a team known as "The New Fabulous Kangaroos" in the American Independent circuit. The New Fabulous Kangaroos consisted of little known wrestlers Mickey Doyle, Denny Kass and Al Snow; of the three, only Snow went on to national and international recognition.[1]

Pick the Ideal CDL School Kent AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Kent ALChoosing the right trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking 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 choose an independent truck driving 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 no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Kent AL.

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