How to Select a Trucking School near Red Bay Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Red Bay AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Red Bay residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Red Bay AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses 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 discuss 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 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 more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 CDL is required 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 might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Red Bay AL trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Red Bay AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 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 business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Red Bay AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker 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 instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Red Bay AL schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will provide ample 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 operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Red Bay AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can 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 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 free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Red Bay AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Red Bay AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify 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 companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Red Bay AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Red Bay AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Red Bay AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Red Bay Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Red Bay, Alabama
Red Bay is a city in Franklin County, Alabama, United States. It was founded in 1907. The population was 3,158 at the 2010 census, down from 3,374 at the 2000 census. The town's name likely comes from its location amid a large stand of redbay trees at the time of its founding.
What is now Red Bay was originally known as "Vinson's Crossroads," and was initially located further to the southwest along Gum Creek. A branch of the Illinois Central Railroad was constructed through the area in 1907, and Red Bay developed into an important lumber and shipping center. The city incorporated during this same period.
The first school in Red Bay was located where the First United Methodist Church stands today. In 1903, this school had one faculty member who was responsible for teaching, as well as most of the custodial duties. After crops were harvested, students attended school through the remainder of the fall and winter months until the spring planting season.
Pick the Right Trucking School Red Bay AL
Selecting the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical 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 safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might 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 enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Red Bay AL.
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