Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Panola AL

How to Choose a Truck Driver School near Panola Alabama

Panola AL truck driving school campusCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Panola AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Panola residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll receive the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on 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?

long haul tractor trailer in Panola ALIn order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Panola AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations for the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. 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 needed to drive 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 require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.

How to Evaluate a CDL School

Questions to ask Panola AL truck driving schoolsWhen you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Panola AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Panola AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several 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 requires 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Panola AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.

How Good 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 teachers 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 individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Panola AL schools provide training programs that range 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 earlier stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Panola AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment 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 maintaining associations 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 giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Panola AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there 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 available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Panola AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. 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 grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Panola AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Panola 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 Panola AL?

If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Panola Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.

Batesville, Mississippi

Batesville is one of two county seats which the legislature established for Panola County, related to a longstanding rivalry between towns on either side of the Tallahatchie River; the other is Sardis, located north of the river.

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 7,113 people, 2,577 households, and 1,821 families residing in the city. The population density was 638.2 people per square mile (246.3/km²). There were 2,791 housing units at an average density of 250.4 per square mile (96.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 56.43% White, 41.88% African American, 0.06% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.82% from other races, and 0.39% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.60% of the population.

There were 2,577 households out of which 35.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.7% were married couples living together, 21.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.3% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.14.

Choose the Right Truck Driver School Panola AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Panola ALPicking the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape 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 obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to consider 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 enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Panola AL.

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