How to Select the Right Truck Driving School near Opp Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Opp AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Opp residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal way to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams 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 cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Opp AL, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Opp AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are a few additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Opp AL area are accredited due to 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 know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given 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 program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards 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 poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Opp AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover 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 greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention 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 professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Opp AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to 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.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Opp AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some truck driver 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 rather than maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Opp AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. 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 convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Opp AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen 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, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Opp AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Opp AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Opp AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Opp Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Opp is located in eastern Covington County at 31°16′59″N 86°15′17″W / 31.28306°N 86.25472°W / 31.28306; -86.25472 (31.283083, -86.254661). It is bordered by the town of Babbie to the west and the town of Horn Hill to the southwest.
As of the census of 2010, there were 6,659 people and 2,655 households, and 1,823 families residing in the city. The population density was 388 people per square mile. The racial makeup of the city was 80.9% White, 16.7% Black or African American, 0.6% Native American, 0.3% Asian, and 1.2% from two or more races. 0.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
In 2000, there were 2,753 households out of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.5% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.8% were non-families. 28.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.85.
How To Get A Class A CDL License Opp AL
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Get A Class A CDL License. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Opp AL.
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