How to Decide on the Right Truck Driver School near Columbia Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Columbia AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Columbia residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable 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 discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Columbia AL, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of 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. A few 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 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. 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 require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Columbia AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Columbia AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated 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 plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking 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. On the other hand, even the best of Columbia AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. 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 obtaining the individual 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 teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Columbia AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish lots 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Columbia AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to 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 refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously 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 receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Columbia AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing 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 views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Columbia AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify 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 local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Columbia AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Columbia AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Columbia AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Columbia Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
At the age of 18 Columbia was hired to assist Bill Sienkiewicz in illustrating Alan Moore's ambitious Big Numbers series. When Sienkiewicz withdrew from the series in 1990 after the release of the first two issues, Moore and his backers at Tundra Publishing asked the young Columbia to become its sole artist. In 1992, with no more issues released, Columbia himself left the project under a cloud of rumors and accusations, including claims that he had destroyed his own artwork for Big Numbers #4. Columbia declined to address the subject publicly for several years, writing in a 1998 letter to The Comics Journal that "I could easily launch into a tirade about the extensive horror of my Tundra experience, but I much prefer the very entertaining and conflicting accounts already in circulation." In later statements he confirmed that he destroyed his artwork but disputed other claims by the principal figures in the fiasco.
In a 2011 article reflecting on his Big Numbers experience, Sienkiewicz wrote that he and Columbia had long since reconciled over the matter, and that he was content to "[c]halk the feud up to the folly of youth."
Columbia's first solo comic book, Doghead, was released by Tundra Publishing in 1992. It contains three short stories, two in black and white and one in full color. Paul Gravett described it as "three dark, stylish tales, indebted to Sienkiewicz and McKean but with hints of [Columbia's] emerging singular identity".
Truck Classes Columbia AL
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation 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 a number of options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Truck Classes. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to think about 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 enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Columbia AL.
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