Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Thomaston AL

How to Decide on a Trucking School near Thomaston Alabama

Thomaston AL truck driving school campusCongrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Thomaston AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Thomaston residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to make certain you’ll receive the right training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which CDL Will You Require?

long haul tractor trailer in Thomaston ALIn order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Thomaston AL, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are short explanations for the two classes.

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

How to Evaluate a Trucking School

Questions to ask Thomaston AL truck driving schoolsWhen you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Thomaston AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Thomaston AL area are accredited due to 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 several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving 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. However, even the top Thomaston AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker 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 cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Thomaston AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with 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.

How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Thomaston AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement 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 maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Thomaston AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Thomaston AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Thomaston AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Thomaston 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 assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Thomaston AL?

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

Thomaston, Alabama

Thomaston is a town in Marengo County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 417, up from 383 in 2000. Thomaston is home to the Pepper Jelly Festival which takes place the last Saturday of April and celebrates Thomaston's famous Mama Nem's pepper jelly, as well as, folk artists and other vendors. As Thomaston's water tower reads, "Eat Pepper Jelly".

Thomaston was platted in 1901 when the railroad was extended to that point.[3] Thomaston was named for C. B. Thomas, a town promoter.[3] A post office called Thomaston has been in operation since 1892.[4] It was incorporated on November 15, 1901.[5]

Thomaston has one historic district, the Thomaston Central Historic District, which encompasses the core of the town. Additionally, there are three individually listed properties on the National Register of Historic Places: the Thomaston Colored Institute, C. S. Golden House, and Patrick Farrish House.[6] The town is home to the Alabama Rural Heritage Center, and the Thomaston Community Market, both community projects of Auburn University's Rural Studio.[7]. Thomaston is also home to the Alabama Whitetail Records Museum.

Pick the Ideal CDL School Thomaston AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Thomaston ALSelecting the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to consider 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 CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Thomaston AL.

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