How to Enroll in the Right Trucker Classes near Fort Mitchell Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Fort Mitchell AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Fort Mitchell home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified 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 discuss 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 Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Fort Mitchell AL, a driver must obtain 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 subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class 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). Below are brief descriptions for the two 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. Several 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 CDL is required to drive 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Fort Mitchell AL trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Fort Mitchell AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking 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. However, even the top Fort Mitchell AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn 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 also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
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 discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning 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 relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Fort Mitchell AL schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some 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? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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 essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Fort Mitchell AL schools you are looking at 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 truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Fort Mitchell AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Fort Mitchell AL school you select 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 instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Fort Mitchell AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Fort Mitchell AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Schools For Truck Driving Fort Mitchell Alabama
Choosing the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available 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 Schools For Truck Driving and wanting information on the topic How Can I Get My CDL License. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to look into 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 CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Fort Mitchell AL.
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Fort Mitchell, Alabama
Fort Mitchell is an unincorporated community in Russell County, Alabama, United States. The area was originally a garrisoned fort intended to provide defense for the area during the Creek War (1813–14).
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