Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Spruce Pine AL

How to Choose a CDL Training School near Spruce Pine Alabama

Spruce Pine AL truck driving school campusCongratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Spruce Pine AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Spruce Pine residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?

long haul tractor trailer in Spruce Pine ALTo drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Spruce Pine AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 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. A few 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 specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.

How to Evaluate a CDL School

Questions to ask Spruce Pine AL truck driving schoolsWhen you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Spruce Pine AL trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are some more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Spruce Pine AL area are accredited because of the stringent 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Spruce Pine 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 pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.

How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. 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 receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Spruce Pine AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. 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 crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.

Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Spruce Pine AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous 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 work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Spruce Pine AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Spruce Pine AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating 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 companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Spruce Pine AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Spruce Pine AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Spruce Pine AL?

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

Spruce

A spruce is a tree of the genus Picea /paɪˈsiːə/,[1] a genus of about 35 species of coniferous evergreen trees in the family Pinaceae, found in the northern temperate and boreal (taiga) regions of the Earth. Spruces are large trees, from about 20–60 m (about 60–200 ft) tall when mature, and have whorled branches and conical form. They can be distinguished from other members of the pine family by their needles (leaves), which are four-sided and attached singly to small persistent peg-like structures (pulvini) on the branches, and by their cones (without any protruding bracts), which hang downwards after they are pollinated.[2] The needles are shed when 4–10 years old, leaving the branches rough with the retained pegs. In other similar genera, the branches are fairly smooth.

In the mountains of western Sweden, scientists have found a Norway spruce, nicknamed Old Tjikko, which by reproducing through layering, has reached an age of 9,550 years and is claimed to be the world's oldest known living tree.[3]

The word "spruce" entered the English language from the Polish Prusy, Prussia (a historical region, today part of Poland and Kaliningrad Oblast). It became spruce because in Polish, z Prus ("from Prussia") sounded like "spruce" to English speakers and was a generic term for commodities brought to England by Hanseatic merchants and because the tree was believed to have come from Polish Ducal Prussia.[4][5]

Select the Right Truck Driving School Spruce Pine AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Spruce Pine ALChoosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation 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 vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may 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 choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Spruce Pine AL.

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