How to Pick a Truck Driver School near Millport Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Millport AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Millport home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll receive the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Millport AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss 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 explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. Several 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Millport AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Millport AL area are accredited due to 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know 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 real 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 clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly 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 Millport AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal 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 train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Millport AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. 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.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Millport AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer 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 free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Millport AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 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 reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Millport AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates 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 Millport AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Millport 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 evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Millport AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Millport Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Millport is a town in Lamar County, Alabama, United States. It incorporated in 1887. At the 2010 census the population was 1,049, down from 1,160 in 2000. After its incorporation from 1890-1900, it was the largest town in Lamar County, losing the distinction to Sulligent. Since 1940, it has been the 3rd largest town.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,160 people, 495 households, and 328 families residing in the town. The population density was 213.7 people per square mile (82.5/km²). There were 561 housing units at an average density of 103.3 per square mile (39.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 65.52% White, 33.97% Black, 0.09% Native American, and 0.43% from two or more races.
There were 495 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.1% were married couples living together, 16.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 32.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.96.
Pick the Right CDL School Millport AL
Picking the right trucking school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical 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 professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to look into 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 select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Millport AL.
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