How to Select a CDL Training School near Opp Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Opp AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Opp home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to make certain you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams 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 discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Opp AL, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 required 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Opp AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Opp AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Opp AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering 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 experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining 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 relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Opp AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher 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 may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he 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 no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Opp AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified 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 instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Opp AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Opp AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Opp AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Opp AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Opp AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Opp Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Opp is located in eastern Covington County at 31°16′59″N 86°15′17″W / 31.28306°N 86.25472°W / 31.28306; -86.25472 (31.283083, -86.254661). It is bordered by the town of Babbie to the west and the town of Horn Hill to the southwest.
As of the census of 2010, there were 6,659 people and 2,655 households, and 1,823 families residing in the city. The population density was 388 people per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 80.9% White, 16.7% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.3% Asian, and 1.2% from two or more races. 0.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
In 2000, there were 2,753 households out of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.5% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.8% were non-families. 28.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.85.
Choose the Right CDL School Opp AL
Selecting the right truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation 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 several options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Opp AL.
More Trucking Locations in Alabama