How to Choose a Trucking School near Lockhart Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Lockhart AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Lockhart residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder 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?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Lockhart AL, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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. Some 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 types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Lockhart 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 sole concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Lockhart AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Lockhart AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Lockhart AL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving 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 essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Lockhart 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 truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Lockhart AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd 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 looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Lockhart AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Lockhart AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Lockhart 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 a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Lockhart AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Lockhart Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Lockhart is located in southern Covington County at 31°0′41″N 86°21′2″W / 31.01139°N 86.35056°W / 31.01139; -86.35056 (31.011435, -86.350652), 1 mile (2 km) north of the Florida state line. Lockhart is bordered by the town of Florala to the east.
Lockhart came into being about 1904 when the Jackson Lumber Company mill was constructed there, the community being a company town. Many streets were named for Native American tribes. The mill was erected to handle the dense forests of yellow pine in what was known as the "Jackson Tract". The town was named for Standard Oil magnate and Pittsburg, Pennsylvania financier, Charles Lockhart. In 1912, the mill employed around a thousand workers and ran 24/7. At that time Lockhart was the largest lumber mill in the United States. Flooring for the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City came from Lockhart.
In 1903 the mill was the center of a peonage scandal. More than a hundred immigrant laborers recruited in cities in the North were held against their will in a walled compound on the site. Company officials were sentenced to as much as eighteen months in jail when convicted but were able to have their sentences reduced by political friends.
Select the Ideal CDL School Lockhart AL
Picking the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Lockhart AL.
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