How to Pick a Trucking School near Stevenson Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Stevenson AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Stevenson residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge 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 choose a truck driving school? That 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 CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Stevenson AL, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Stevenson AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Stevenson AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Stevenson AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Stevenson AL schools provide 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 Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers 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 an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some 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.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide plenty of 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary 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 be. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Stevenson 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 some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with a wide range of 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 freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Stevenson AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent 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 truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. 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 duration, it’s imperative that the Stevenson AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 Placement Offered? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Stevenson AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Stevenson AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance 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 Stevenson AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Stevenson Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Stevenson is a city in Jackson County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Chattanooga-Cleveland-Dalton, TN-GA-AL Combined Statistical Area. Sources listed either 1866 or 1867 as the year of incorporation, but that seems to conflict with the dates given for the town being granted a charter. It did not first appear on the U.S. Census until 1880, where it was the second largest town in Jackson County behind Scottsboro. Since 1900, it has been the third largest town behind either Scottsboro and Bridgeport or vice versa. At the 2010 census, the population of the city was 2,046, up from 1,770 in 2000.
In the 2000 census, there were 1,770 people, 795 households, and 508 families residing in the city. The population density was 357.8 per square mile (138.1/km²). There were 948 housing units at an average density of 191.6 per square mile (73.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 72.88% White, 22.37% Black or African American, 0.90% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 1.30% from other races, and 2.43% from two or more races. 1.53% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 795 households of which 24.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.4% were married couples living together, 14.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.1% were non-families. 34.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.83.
Pick the Best Truck Driver School Stevenson AL
Selecting the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Stevenson AL.
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