Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Shelby AL

How to Find a Trucking School near Shelby Alabama

Shelby AL truck driving school campusCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Shelby AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Shelby residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you’ll receive the right education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover 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 Shelby ALIn order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Shelby AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight 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 for the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate 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 Commercial Drivers License is required 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. Some 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 might also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.

How to Assess a Truck Driver School

Questions to ask Shelby AL truck driving schoolsWhen you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Shelby AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized 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 or even more important. So below are some more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Shelby AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, 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 certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given 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 course is certified (the course, 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 Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Shelby AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, 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 personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists 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 skillfully takes time. The majority of Shelby AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.

Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will furnish ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Shelby AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular 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 rather than having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Shelby AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent 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 allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Shelby AL school you enroll in 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 instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating 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 companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Shelby AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Shelby AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Shelby AL?

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

Richard Shelby

Richard Craig Shelby (born May 6, 1934) is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator from Alabama. First elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, he is the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, succeeding Thad Cochran. He previously served as Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Shelby received his law degree from the Birmingham School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1961. After law school in 1963, he went on to serve as city prosecutor (1963–1971). During this period he worked as a U.S. Magistrate for the Northern District of Alabama (1966–1970) and Special Assistant Attorney General of Alabama (1969–1971). He won a seat in the Alabama Senate in 1970. In 1978, he was elected from the 7th District to the United States House of Representatives, where he was among a group of Conservative Democrats known as the boll weevils.

In 1986, Shelby won a tight race as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate. In 1994, the day after the Republican Revolution in which the GOP gained the majority in Congress midway through President Bill Clinton's first term, Shelby switched party affiliations and became a Republican. Shelby was re-elected by a large margin in 1998 and has faced no significant electoral opposition since. He is currently the dean of the Alabama delegation.

Pick the Best Trucking School Shelby AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Shelby ALSelecting the appropriate truck driver school is an important 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 a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the proper 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 want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Shelby AL.

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