How to Find the Right Trucker School near Florence Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Florence 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 discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Florence residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll receive the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick 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 review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Florence AL, an operator needs to 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. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 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 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 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 kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Florence AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Florence AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Florence AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. 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 reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. 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 personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Florence AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide plenty 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets 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 furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Florence AL schools you are looking at 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 some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified 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 rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Florence AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Florence 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 particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Florence AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Florence AL area vocational or trade 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 submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Florence AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Florence Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Florence is the largest and principal city of the Florence-Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Statistical Area (which includes Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia metropolitan areas in Colbert and Lauderdale counties). Florence is considered northwestern Alabama's primary economic hub.
Annual tourism events include the W. C. Handy Music Festival in the summer and the Renaissance Faire in the fall. Landmarks in Florence include the Rosenbaum House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home located in Alabama.
Florence and Lauderdale County had one hospital, Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital. ECM was a 358-bed facility owned by RCCH HealthCare Partners in Brentwood, Tennessee. In 2010 RCCH HealthCare Partners announced that they would build a new hospital in Florence. The hospital was completed in December 2018.
How To Get Class B CDL Florence AL
Choosing 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 taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Get Class B CDL. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Florence AL.
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