How to Select a Truck Driver School near Lincoln Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Lincoln AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Lincoln home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to make sure you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Lincoln AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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. 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Lincoln AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are a few more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Lincoln AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Lincoln AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Lincoln AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide plenty of 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Lincoln AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Lincoln AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. 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 from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Lincoln AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio 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 low job placement rate or few Lincoln AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Lincoln AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Lincoln AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Lincoln Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Lincoln is a city in Talladega County, Alabama, United States. It was incorporated in 1911. At the 2010 census the population was 6,266. It was named for Major General Benjamin Lincoln, who served in the American army during the Revolutionary War.
Lincoln is located at 33°35′35″N 86°8′20″W / 33.59306°N 86.13889°W / 33.59306; -86.13889 (33.593156, -86.138879). It is home to Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, employing over 4,000 people. Talladega Superspeedway race track is located near the city.
Lincoln has three public schools in the Talladega County Board of Education, Lincoln Elementary School, Charles R. Drew Middle School, and Lincoln High School, Home of The Golden Bears. The first graduate of Lincoln High School was the famous Cities Service Company CEO Burl S. Watson, who graduated from LHS in 1912.
Choose the Right CDL School Lincoln AL
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Lincoln AL.
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