How to Choose the Right Truck Driver Classes near Elkmont Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Elkmont AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Elkmont residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to ensure 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 exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Elkmont AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 CDL is needed to operate 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 need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Elkmont AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Elkmont AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Elkmont 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 track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized attention 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Elkmont AL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with 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 qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish lots of 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. Even though 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 he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Elkmont AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Elkmont AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Elkmont AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed 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 received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Elkmont AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Elkmont 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 evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Truck Driver School Near Me Elkmont Alabama
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Truck Driver School Near Me and wanting information on the topic Cost Of Truck Driving School. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Elkmont AL.
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Elkmont is a town in Limestone County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town was 434, down from its record high of 470 in 2000.
Elkmont began as a stop known as "Fort Hampton" along the newly-constructed Tennessee and Alabama Central Railroad in 1859. The name was changed to "Elkmont," after the elk that once flourished in the area, in 1866. The Tennessee and Alabama Central eventually became part of the L&N Railroad system, which built the current depot (now used as a community center) in 1887. The railroad tracks have since been removed, and are now part of the Richard Martin Trail. Elkmont incorporated in 1873.
Elkmont is located at 34°55′49″N 86°58′38″W / 34.93028°N 86.97722°W / 34.93028; -86.97722 (34.930155, -86.977086). The town is concentrated around the intersection of County Road 49 (Upper Fort Hampton Road) and the old railroad line (now the Richard Martin Trail), several miles north of Athens, and a few miles south of the Alabama-Tennessee state line. Interstate 65 passes to the east of Elkmont, and the Elk River passes to the west. State Route 127 runs along a portion of Elkmont's western municipal boundary.
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