How to Select a CDL Driving School near Trafford Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Trafford AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to examine before making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Trafford home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you’ll receive the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Trafford AL, an operator 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 choose a truck driver school, we will address 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 summaries of the 2 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 more 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Trafford AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Trafford AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Trafford AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure 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 hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Trafford AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Trafford AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified 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 affiliations with numerous 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Trafford AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Trafford AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate 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 accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Make sure 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 national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Trafford AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Trafford AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Trafford AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Trafford Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Trafford is located in northern Jefferson County at 33°49′8″N 86°44′48″W / 33.81889°N 86.74667°W / 33.81889; -86.74667 (33.818957, -86.746581). The Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River flows through the northwest part of town. The town of County Line borders the town to the east. Trafford is 26 miles (42 km) north of downtown Birmingham.
As of the census of 2000, there were 523 people, 220 households, and 159 families residing in the town. The population density was 344.5 people per square mile (132.8/km²). There were 240 housing units at an average density of 158.1 per square mile (61.0/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 98.47% White, 0.96% Black or African American, 0.19% from other races, 0.38% from two or more races and 0.19% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 220 households out of which 25.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.7% were married couples living together, 15.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.7% were non-families. 25.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.82.
Pick the Ideal Truck Driver School Trafford AL
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught 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 if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Trafford AL.
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