How to Select the Right CDL Driving School near Alexander City Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Alexander City AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Alexander City home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select 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 eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Alexander City AL, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Alexander City AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Alexander City AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Alexander City AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Alexander City AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative 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 among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Alexander City AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known 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 place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Alexander City AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Alexander City AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Alexander City AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Alexander City AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid 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 Alexander City AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Alexander City Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Alexander City, Alabama
Alexander City, known to locals as "Alex City", is a city in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, United States, with a population of some 14,875. It is known for Lake Martin with its 750 miles (1,210 km) of wooded shoreline and 44,000 acres (18,000 ha) of water. Lake Martin stands on the Tallapoosa River and offers boating, swimming, fishing, golfing, and camping. Many neighborhoods and luxury homes are located on the lake.
Alexander City was incorporated in 1872 as Youngsville, after its founder James Young. In 1873, the Savannah and Memphis Railroad came to the city. The city was renamed in honor of the railroad's President Edward Porter Alexander, hero of the Battle of Gettysburg for the Confederate States.
On June 13, 1902, at 1 pm, a fire broke out in the Alexander City Machine shop and destroyed much of the town. At the time, Alexander City did not have a water system and all buildings, including the telegraph office, post office and three banks were burned.
CDL Training Alexander City AL
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills 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 if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Training. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need 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 select an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Alexander City AL.
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