How to Decide on the Right CDL Driving School near Tuskegee Institute Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Tuskegee Institute AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to examine before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Tuskegee Institute home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll receive the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Tuskegee Institute AL, an operator needs to get 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 choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind 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 explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Tuskegee Institute AL trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Tuskegee Institute AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Tuskegee Institute AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Tuskegee Institute AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating 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 teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level 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. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Tuskegee Institute AL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Tuskegee Institute AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available 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 contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Tuskegee Institute 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 certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates 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 Tuskegee Institute AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Tuskegee Institute 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 evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Tuskegee Institute AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Tuskegee Institute Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Tuskegee University is a private, historically black university in Tuskegee, Alabama. It was established by Lewis Adams and Booker T. Washington. The campus is designated as the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site by the National Park Service. The university was home to scientist George Washington Carver and to World War II's Tuskegee Airmen.
Tuskegee University offers 40 bachelor's degree programs, 17 master's degree programs, a 5-year accredited professional degree program in architecture, 4 doctoral degree programs, and the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. The university is home to over 3,100 students from the U.S. and 30 foreign countries. Tuskegee University was ranked 8th among the 2020 U.S. News & World Report best Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
The university's campus was designed by architect Robert Robinson Taylor, the first African American to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in conjunction with David Williston, the first professionally trained African-American landscape architect.
CDL Driving Schools Tuskegee Institute AL
Selecting the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills 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 to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Driving Schools. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving 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 decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Tuskegee Institute AL.
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