How to Choose the Right Truck Driver School near Chelsea Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Chelsea AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Chelsea residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to make certain you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Chelsea AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 needed 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 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Chelsea AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are several additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Chelsea AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Chelsea AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Chelsea AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide sufficient 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Chelsea AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment 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 affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Chelsea AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Chelsea AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Chelsea AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Chelsea AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Chelsea AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Chelsea Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Chelsea is a city in Shelby County, Alabama, United States. It is part of the Birmingham metropolitan area. Chelsea was incorporated on March 1, 1996, with a population of 906. At the 2000 census the population was 2,949. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2010 population for Chelsea was 10,183. Its seasonal campsite for visitors is Hargis Retreat which began in 1984. Chelsea is widely considered the fastest growing city in Shelby County, which is the fastest growing county in the state of Alabama.
Chelsea is located near the central part of Shelby County at 33° 20' 24" N, -86° 37' 49" W (33.3401108 N, -86.6302625 W). The city is traversed by multiple county highways, as well as U.S. Route 280, which runs through the northern part of the city, leading northwest 19 mi (31 km) to downtown Birmingham, and east 12 mi (19 km) to Harpersville. Double Oak Mountain, a southern extension of the Appalachian Mountains, runs northwest of the city. Part of the city limits extend along US 280 on top of the ridge.
In 2010, Chelsea had a population of 10,183. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 90.5% white or Caucasian, 4.7% black or African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.0% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.1% from some other race, 1.3% from two or more races and 3.2% Hispanic or Latino of any race.
CDL Truck Driving Schools Chelsea AL
Selecting the right truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several 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 CDL Truck Driving Schools. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker 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 no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Chelsea AL.
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