How to Find a Truck Driver School near Needham Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Needham AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Needham residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance 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?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Needham AL, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight 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 descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 more 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 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 operate certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Needham AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. 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 or even more important. So following are some additional points 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 ? Very few truck driver schools in the Needham AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical 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 receive 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Needham AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention 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 insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Needham AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Needham AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Needham AL schools you are considering 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 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Needham AL school you enroll in 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 teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Needham AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Needham AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Needham AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Needham 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 97 people, 39 households, and 32 families residing in the town. The population density was 169.4 people per square mile (65.7/km²). There were 46 housing units at an average density of 80.3 per square mile (31.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 100.00% White.
There were 39 households out of which 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 71.8% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.9% were non-families. 17.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.81.
In the town, the population was spread out with 20.6% under the age of 18, 4.1% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 26.8% from 45 to 64, and 18.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.5 males.
Choose the Right CDL School Needham AL
Picking the right truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get 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 want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Needham AL.
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