How to Select a Trucking School near Millbrook Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Millbrook AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by picking 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 ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Millbrook residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to ensure you’ll receive the proper 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 goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Millbrook AL, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply 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 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). Following are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 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 needed to operate 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 might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Millbrook AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Millbrook AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Millbrook AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several 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 share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, 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 especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Millbrook AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide ample 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important 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 furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Millbrook AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Millbrook AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed 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 of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Millbrook 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 willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Millbrook AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Millbrook AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid 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 Millbrook AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Millbrook Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
The area's first permanent home "Ellerslie" was completed in 1818 by Georgia Congressman, and Revolutionary War Veteran Bolling Hall. The area's second permanent home "Thornfield" was started the following year, and completed in 1820 by pioneer Archibald McKeithen. Both homes still stand, and are private residences.
After its initial settlement, Robinson Springs was known as an early summer resort for wealthy families of Montgomery, and the vicinity. The Robinson Springs United Methodist Church was formed in 1828. The settlers quickly grew out of the log structure, and decided to build a permanent structure. The present church was completed in 1848. The parsonage was sold soon after completion (due to the lack of a steady minister) to noted Alabama historian Albert J. Pickett. It still stands two doors down from the church. In 1852, Robinson Springs played host to Alabama's first state fair.
Shadrack Mims, Autauga's early historian, describes Robinson Springs (circa 1850) as "a spot selected by Todd Robinson as a retreat from the river; and much good sense did he show in such selection - for, if the whole South was searched over, a more healthy spot, in my opinion, could not be found. It is altogether rural in its appearance, the forest growth being untouched, only for garden spots. As to water, it cannot be excelled any where for coolness, clearness, and pleasantness, and the abundance of it. The building situations are beautiful. Upon the whole, it is just the place for a summer retreat; just the place for a school - healthy and high, and free from the temptations so common in villages and cities."
Pick the Ideal Truck Driver School Millbrook AL
Selecting the right truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession 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 offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Millbrook AL.
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