How to Decide on the Best Trucking School near Henagar Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Henagar AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Henagar home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to make sure you’ll get the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Henagar AL, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick 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). Below are brief explanations 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 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. 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 require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
When you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Henagar AL trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Henagar AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Henagar AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. 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 receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Henagar AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 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 prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will furnish plenty of 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Henagar AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Henagar AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Henagar AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Henagar AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Henagar 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 a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Trucking School Cost Henagar Alabama
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local 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 critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Trucking School Cost and wanting information on the topic Training For Truck Drivers. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Henagar AL.
Truck On in These Other Alabama Locations
Henagar was first settled circa 1855. The town is named after an early settler, George Henegar. A post office was established in 1878. It was then that a postal official misspelled the town's name as "Henagar". In 1901, a public school was built. Henagar incorporated in 1965.
Henagar is located in northern DeKalb County at 34°38′1″N 85°44′35″W / 34.63361°N 85.74306°W / 34.63361; -85.74306 (34.633700, -85.742921). Its northwest border follows the Jackson County line.
Alabama State Route 40 passes through the original center of town, leading east 8 miles (13 km) to Interstate 59 in Hammondville and west 19 miles (31 km) to Scottsboro. Alabama State Route 75 crosses AL 40 in the newer commercial part of Henagar and leads northeast 8 miles (13 km) to Ider and southwest 10 miles (16 km) to Rainsville.