How to Select a Truck Driving School near Phenix City Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Phenix City AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Phenix City home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to make certain you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Phenix City AL, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 operators may be able to drive 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Phenix City AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including 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 should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Phenix City AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost 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 required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, 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 program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Phenix City AL schools had to begin from their first 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 job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching 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 discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Phenix City AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to 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 ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Phenix City AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Phenix City 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 some states that will allow 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 reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Phenix City 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 prepared to spend 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 Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Phenix City AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Phenix City AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Phenix City AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Phenix City Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Phenix City, Alabama
Phenix City lies immediately west across the Chattahoochee River from much larger Columbus, Georgia. Sometimes called Hub City, Most of Phenix City is included in the Columbus Metropolitan Statistical Area, but a section is located in Lee County, and is therefore in the Auburn, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area. The entire city is part of the Columbus-Auburn-Opelika Combined Statistical Area.
Phenix City is located at 32°28′22″N 85°1′12″W / 32.47278°N 85.02000°W / 32.47278; -85.02000 (32.472822, -85.020121). It is the easternmost settlement in the state of Alabama as well as the Central Time Zone, but it and some other nearby areas unofficially observe Eastern Time, as these areas are part of the metropolitan area of the considerably larger city of Columbus, Georgia, which is in the Eastern Time Zone.
The climate in this area is characterized by relatively high temperatures and evenly distributed precipitation throughout the year. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Phenix City has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
Choose the Best Truck Driver School Phenix City AL
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may 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 CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Phenix City AL.
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