How to Find a Trucking School near Malvern Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Malvern AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Malvern residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll obtain the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick 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 ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Malvern AL, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 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 operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Malvern AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Malvern AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Malvern AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker 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 greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction 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 teach 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 Malvern AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Malvern AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Malvern AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Malvern AL school you enroll in 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 prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. 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? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Malvern AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Malvern 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 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 Malvern AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Malvern Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,215 people, 485 households, and 370 families residing in the town. The population density was 86.7 people per square mile (33.5/km²). There were 547 housing units at an average density of 39.0 per square mile (15.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 94.57% White, 2.22% Black or African American, 1.15% Native American, 0.25% Asian, 1.07% from other races, and 0.74% from two or more races. 1.32% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 485 households out of which 36.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.2% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.7% were non-families. 21.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 2.89.
In the town, the population was spread out with 26.1% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 31.4% from 25 to 44, 24.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.1 males.
Choose the Best Truck Driver School Malvern AL
Selecting the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical 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 professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Malvern AL.
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