How to Pick the Right CDL Training School near Fairfield Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Fairfield AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Fairfield home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master 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 choose 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 ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Fairfield AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and 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 brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 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. A few 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 operate specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Fairfield AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Fairfield AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost 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 a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Fairfield AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure 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 employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Fairfield AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs between 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 Fairfield AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Fairfield AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Fairfield AL school you select 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 teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Fairfield AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Fairfield AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Fairfield AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Fairfield Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Fairfield is a city in western Jefferson County, Alabama, United States. It is part of the Birmingham metropolitan area and is located southeast of Pleasant Grove. The population was 11,117 at the 2010 census.
This city was founded in 1910 in which the featured speaker at the dedication ceremony was former President Theodore Roosevelt. It was originally named Corey, after an executive of U.S. Steel Corporation. The name was later changed to the city in which the President of U.S. Steel lived, Fairfield, Connecticut. It was planned as a model city by the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company to house workers in their new Fairfield Works plant, now owned by U.S. Steel, similar to its northeastern city of Ensley.
As of the census of 2000, there were 12,381 people, 4,600 households, and 3,141 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,503.8 people per square mile (1,354.2/km²). There were 4,960 housing units at an average density of 1,403.7 per square mile (542.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 8.90% White, 90.23% Black or African American, 0.06% Native American, 0.15% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.17% from other races, and 0.48% from two or more races. 0.59% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
How To Get Class A CDL Fairfield AL
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Get Class A CDL. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases 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 firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Fairfield AL.
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