How to Enroll in the Right Trucking School near Winfield Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Winfield AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Winfield home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal method to make sure you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Winfield AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic 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 kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations of the 2 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. A few 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 more 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Winfield AL trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Winfield 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 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 plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Winfield AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning 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 comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Winfield AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 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. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Winfield AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer 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 benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Winfield AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Winfield 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 commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Winfield AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Winfield AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Winfield AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Winfield Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Winfield is a small city situated in Northwest Alabama 26 miles (42 km) east of the Mississippi state line. It lies in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range which stretches from the deep South all the way to Maine. Long before the earliest settlers arrived, Indian tribes hunted in the forest and fished in the streams and along and around Winfield. The town was originally called "Needmore", but when it was incorporated in either 1887 or 1891, the name was changed to Winfield in honor of General Winfield Scott. This area was once the Chickasaw Indian domain. Although there were no known Indian settlements within the county, several sites were maintained as hunting camps.
Winfield is located in southern Marion County at 33°55′42″N 87°48′29″W / 33.92833°N 87.80806°W / 33.92833; -87.80806 (33.928258, -87.807990), with a portion extending south into Fayette County. U.S. Route 43 passes through the city, leading northwest 6.5 miles (10.5 km) to Guin and south 18 miles (29 km) to Fayette. Hamilton, the Marion County seat, is 20 miles (32 km) northwest via US 43.
Winfield has a subtropical climate characterized by hot, humid summers, mild winters, and abundant rainfall during the late winter and spring. January sees average daily high temperatures of 53.0 °F (11.7 °C) and lows of 31.8 °F (−0.1 °C). In July, the average daily high is 90.6 °F (32.6 °C), and the low is 69.2 °F (20.7 °C). Snowfall is infrequent in the area, with a yearly average of 0.5 inches (12.7 mm). The average yearly rainfall in Winfield is about 52 inches (1,300 mm), with March being the wettest month and October the driest.
CDL Training Cost Winfield AL
Picking the right truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Training Cost. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to think about 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 truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Winfield AL.
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