How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Mathews Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Mathews AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of 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 various factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Mathews home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the optimal means to make certain you’ll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Mathews AL, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify 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 focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are short summaries of the 2 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 greater 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Mathews AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Mathews AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required 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 be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly 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 top Mathews AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. 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 attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of 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 skillfully requires time. Most Mathews AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method 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 ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish lots 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Mathews AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with a wide range of 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Mathews AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer 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 reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Mathews AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty 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 holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Mathews AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Mathews AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Mathews AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Mathews Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Choose the Best Truck Driver School Mathews AL
Choosing the right trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Mathews AL.
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