How to Choose the Right CDL Driving School near Marion Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Marion AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to consider before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Marion home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll receive the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Marion AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will address 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). Below are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Marion AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Marion AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Marion AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for 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 skillfully takes time. Most Marion AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Marion AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Marion AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Marion AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Marion AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Marion AL area technical or vocational 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 aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Marion AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Marion Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Marion is a city in, and the county seat of, Perry County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 3,686, up 4.8% over 2000. First known as Muckle Ridge, the city was renamed after a hero of the American Revolution, Francis Marion.
Formerly the territory of the Creek Indians, it was founded shortly after 1819 as Muckle Ridge. The city was renamed in honor of Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox," hero of the American Revolutionary War, in 1822. It incorporated as a town the same year and also became the second county seat after the hamlet of Perry Ridge was unsuitable. In 1829, it upgraded from a town to a city. From the very early days, Marion created considerable history for a small town on the western frontier of Alabama. The old City Hall (1832) is but one of many antebellum public buildings, churches, and homes in the city today.
At the 1844 meeting of the Alabama Baptist State Convention in Marion, the "Alabama Resolutions" were passed. This was one of the factors that led to the 1845 formation of the Southern Baptist Convention in Augusta, Georgia.
Best CDL Training Marion AL
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Best CDL Training. However, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Marion AL.
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