How to Pick a CDL Training School near Locust Fork Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Locust Fork AL. Maybe it has always been your dream 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 provides good wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Locust Fork residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Locust Fork AL, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class 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). Below are short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Locust Fork AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Locust Fork AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace 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. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked 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 Locust Fork AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly 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 be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Locust Fork AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent 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 actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Locust Fork AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver 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 Locust Fork AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Locust Fork 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 particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Locust Fork AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Locust Fork 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 navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Locust Fork AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Locust Fork Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Locust Fork, Alabama
While traveling south with his troops in 1815, General Andrew Jackson camped along a river in the area. General Jackson carved his name in a locust tree, naming the area Locust Fork. In the early 1800s Nick Hudson built a public inn in what is now Locust Fork. He erected barns to shelter the horses and hogs of the Tennessee farmers who drove them to the deeper South for a more profitable market.
Locust Fork is located southwest of the center of Blount County, at 33°53'47.494" North, 86°37'50.048" West (33.896526, -86.630569). It is situated on a bluff overlooking the Blackburn Fork of the Little Warrior River. Just north of town, the Blackburn Fork enters the Little Warrior River, which flows into the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River 2 miles (3 km) northwest of the town.
Locust Fork is located in one of the northeast-to-southwest valleys that make up the southern end of the Appalachian mountain chain. Sand Mountain forms the southeast side of the valley, and McAnnally Mountain and Hog Mountain form part of a broader, more broken ridge to the northwest. The area has been mined for coal over the past 100 years, but no current active coal mining operations exist in the immediate area, which consists of rolling hill farm country.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driver School Locust Fork AL
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. 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 by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Locust Fork AL.
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