How to Decide on the Right CDL Driving School near Loachapoka Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Loachapoka AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to examine before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Loachapoka home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose 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 talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Loachapoka AL, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 CDL is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 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 may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Loachapoka AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Loachapoka AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense 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 certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, 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 assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Loachapoka 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 history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain 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 graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors 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 obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is especially 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 period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Loachapoka AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Loachapoka AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Loachapoka AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Loachapoka 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 teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient 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 firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Loachapoka AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Loachapoka AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Loachapoka AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Loachapoka Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Loachapoka (/ˌloʊ.tʃəˈpoʊ.kə/) is a town in Lee County, Alabama, United States. It is located less than 1/2 mile west of Auburn and approximately 5 miles (8 km) west of Auburn University, in west-central Lee County. The population was 180 as of the 2010 census. It is part of the Auburn metropolitan area.
The name "Loachapoka" means "turtle killing place" in Muskogee, with locha meaning "turtle" and poga meaning "killing place." In literature, Lochapoka was the destination of the colonists in James H. Street's 1940 novel Oh, Promised Land.
Loachapoka is governed by a mayor and 5 town council members. However, in the most recent municipal election (2016), no incumbents submitted qualifying paperwork to run for re-election. Therefore, the only citizen that did qualify for the ballot became mayor-elect, as per state law, and this was confirmed by the AL Director of Elections. When the mayor-elect brought the issue to light, several town, county and state officials worked together in a poorly hatched plan to improperly disqualify the only candidate to follow the law for qualification, as referenced in several newspaper articles and audio recordings of town hall meetings. The corruption portrayed in this series of events reflect a pattern of politics in Alabama that has been commonplace for many years, as reported in the Harvard Political Review.
Driving School CDL Loachapoka AL
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Driving School CDL. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to think about 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 driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Loachapoka AL.
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