How to Select a CDL Driving School near Midland City Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Midland City AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Midland City home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your objective 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 purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance 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 Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Midland City AL, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 CDL is required 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. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Midland City AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while carrying out 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 Midland City AL area are accredited due to the stringent 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking 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 top Midland City AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must 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 proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Midland City AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Midland City AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment 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 rather than having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Midland City AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Midland City 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 teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Midland City AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Midland City AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance 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 Midland City AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Midland City Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Midland City, Alabama
On January 29, 2013, 65-year-old Vietnam War-era veteran Jimmy Lee Dykes climbed aboard a school bus and fatally shot the driver; he then abducted at random a five-year-old boy named Ethan, who was sitting at the closest seat. He took Ethan into an underground bunker, where he held him captive. About a week after the incident, FBI agents were able to storm the bunker, kill Dykes, and rescue Ethan.
Midland City is located in southeastern Dale County at 31°18′29″N 85°29′26″W / 31.30806°N 85.49056°W / 31.30806; -85.49056 (31.307945, -85.490606). It is bordered to the east by the town of Napier Field, to the southeast by the city of Dothan, and to the west by the town of Pinckard. U.S. Route 231 passes through the town, leading northwest 13 miles (21 km) to Ozark, the Dale County seat, and southeast 9 miles (14 km) to the center of Dothan. Alabama State Route 134 passes through the center of Midland City, leading east 10 miles (16 km) to Headland and west 7 miles (11 km) to Newton via Pinckard.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,703 people, 707 households, and 477 families residing in the town. The population density was 282.1 people per square mile (108.9/km²). There were 805 housing units at an average density of 133.3 per square mile (51.5/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 70.58% White, 25.19% Black or African American, 0.70% Native American, 0.35% Asian, 0.12% from other races, and 3.05% from two or more races. 0.76% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Choose the Ideal CDL School Midland City AL
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance 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 vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds 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 CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Midland City AL.
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