How to Pick a CDL Driving School near Pelham Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Pelham AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Pelham residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Pelham AL, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes 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 address 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). Below are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 greater 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Pelham AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Pelham AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace 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 receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Pelham AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering 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 trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Pelham AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish lots of 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. 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 training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard 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 Pelham AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Pelham AL schools you are contemplating 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 truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Pelham AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Pelham AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Pelham AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Pelham AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Pelham Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Pelham is a city in Shelby County, Alabama, United States. It incorporated in July 1964. At the 2000 census the population was 14,369, but has grown to 21,352 recorded by the 2010 census. It was named for Confederate American Civil War officer John Pelham.
As of the census of 2000, there were 14,369 people, 5,637 households, and 4,002 families residing in the city. The population density was 378.2 people per square mile (146.0/km²). There were 5,894 housing units at an average density of 155.1 per square mile (59.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.02% White, 3.97% Black or African American, 0.35% Native American, 1.68% Asian, 2.82% from other races, and 1.16% from two or more races. 6.42% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 5,637 households out of which 35.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.3% were married couples living together, 8.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.0% were non-families. 25.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.05.
Choose the Best Truck Driving School Pelham AL
Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation 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 crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. 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 lacking funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Pelham AL.
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