How to Enroll in the Right Truck Driver School near Madison Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Madison AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Madison home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to make sure you’ll obtain the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Madison AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Madison AL trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, such as 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 performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Madison AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to 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 poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Madison AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should 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 higher, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Madison AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques 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 an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, 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 going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, 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 fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Madison AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships 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 many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Madison AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Madison AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Madison AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Madison 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 evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Madison AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Madison Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Madison is a city located primarily in Madison County, near the northern border of the U.S. state of Alabama. Madison extends west into neighboring Limestone County. The city is included in the Huntsville Metropolitan Area, the second-largest in the state, and is also included in the merged Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 42,938. Madison is bordered by Huntsville on all sides.
Madison's first European-American resident was John Cartwright, who settled in the area in 1818. The city was originally known as Madison Station, and it developed in the 1850s around a stop of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. Textile mills were built in the area in the late 19th century for processing of cotton.
Madison was the site of a battle in the American Civil War. On May 17, 1864, Col. Josiah Patterson's 5th Alabama Cavalry, supported by Col. James H. Stuart's cavalry battalion and a section of horse artillery, drove Col. Adam G. Gorgas's 13th Illinois Infantry Regiment from the city. Patterson's men captured the 13th Illinois Regiment's wagon train, taking 66 prisoners. They also burned Union supplies and tore up the railroad tracks before retreating. Portions of the 5th Ohio Cavalry, the 59th Indiana Infantry and the 5th Iowa Infantry were sent in pursuit from Huntsville. They skirmished with Patterson's rear guard that evening at Fletcher's Ferry on the Tennessee River south of Madison.
Class A Truck Driving School Madison AL
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Class A Truck Driving School. However, you must get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to look into 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 select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Madison AL.
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