How to Find the Right Truck Driving School near Summerdale Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Summerdale AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Summerdale home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Summerdale AL, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver 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 address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). 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 more 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 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 might also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Summerdale AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Summerdale AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Summerdale AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms 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 compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly 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 frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Summerdale AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish ample 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction 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 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Summerdale AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific 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 having affiliations with a wide range of 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Summerdale AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive 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 permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Summerdale 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 particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing 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 firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Summerdale AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Summerdale AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Summerdale AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Summerdale Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Summerdale is a rural town in south-central Baldwin County, Alabama, United States. It is the site of the Naval Outlying Field Summerdale. At the 2010 census the population was 862. It is part of the Daphne–Fairhope–Foley Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Summerdale is located at 30°29'15.468" North, 87°42'4.036" West (30.487630, -87.701121).Alabama State Route 59 passes along the west side of the town, leading north 5 miles (8 km) to Robertsdale and south 6 miles (10 km) to Foley.
As of the census of 2000, there were 655 people, 255 households, and 184 families residing in the town. The population density was 125.7 people per square mile (48.5/km²). There were 282 housing units at an average density of 54.1 per square mile (20.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 90.23% White, 4.89% Black or African American, 1.07% Native American, 0.15% Asian, 0.92% from other races, and 2.75% from two or more races. Nearly 2.29% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
Truck School Near Me Summerdale AL
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn 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 Truck School Near Me. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Summerdale AL.
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