How to Find a CDL Driving School near Uniontown Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Uniontown AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Uniontown home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to ensure you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills 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 select 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Uniontown AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three 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 select a truck driver school, we will discuss 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). Below are brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. A few 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 greater 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 may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Uniontown AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Uniontown AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Uniontown AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, 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 comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Uniontown AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to 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.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Uniontown AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide 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 work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Uniontown AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive 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 grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Uniontown AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit 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 commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Uniontown AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Uniontown AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining 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 Uniontown AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Uniontown Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Uniontown is a city in Perry County, Alabama, in the United States of America. At the 2010 census, the population of the city was 1,775, up from 1,636 in 2000. The census estimate for 2014 gave the population as 2,471. The current mayor[when?] is Jamaal O. Hunter.
Uniontown was first settled in 1818 by the Wood family and was originally known as Woodville. It formally incorporated in 1836. The name was later changed to Uniontown, after this name was suggested by Philip Weaver. He was a local planter, originally from Uniontown, Maryland. Uniontown has four sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Fairhope Plantation, Pitts' Folly, the Uniontown Historic District, and Westwood.
At the census of 2000, there were 1,636 people, 617 households, and 433 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,224.9 people per square mile (471.4/km²). There were 743 housing units at an average density of 556.3 per square mile (214.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.20% Black or African American and 11.80% White. 1.10% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Choose the Best CDL School Uniontown AL
Choosing the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation 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 many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Uniontown AL.
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