How to Find a CDL Training School near Oakman Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Oakman AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Oakman home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you’ll receive the proper training. 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 goal in mind, just how do you pick 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 commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Oakman AL, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight 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 short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Oakman AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed 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 additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Oakman AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost 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 certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 comply with the very high standards 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 business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Oakman AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Oakman AL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though 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 crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Oakman AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations 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 freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Oakman AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? 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 considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Oakman AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Oakman AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Oakman AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid 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 Oakman AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Oakman Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Oakman is a town in Walker County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 789, down from 944 in 2000. Initially named Day (or Day's) Gap, it was renamed Oakman and incorporated in 1895.
As of the census of 2000, there were 944 people, 386 households, and 265 families residing in the town. The population density was 303.1 people per square mile (117.2/km²). There were 449 housing units at an average density of 144.1 per square mile (55.7/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 79.66% White, 19.60% Black or African American, and 0.74% from two or more races. 0.74% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 386 households out of which 34.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.9% were married couples living together, 16.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.02.
Pick the Best Trucking School Oakman AL
Selecting the right trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation 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 vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want 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 choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Oakman AL.
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