How to Decide on the Right Trucker School near Higdon Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Higdon 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 found that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Higdon residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to make sure you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional 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 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 Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Higdon AL, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person 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 focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type 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 descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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. 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 may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Higdon AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional points that you need to 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 Higdon AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Higdon AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual 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 claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Higdon AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative 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 among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Higdon AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Higdon AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Higdon AL school you select provides 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 willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Higdon AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Higdon AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
CDL B Training Higdon Alabama
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many 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 B Training and wanting information on the topic Truck Driver Education. However, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to look into 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 enroll in an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Higdon AL.
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As of the census of 2010, there were 1,398 people. The population density was 354.8 persons per square mile. The racial makeup of the town was 95.5% White, 0.2% Black and 2.1% from two or more races. 0.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
In Higdon, the population was spread out with 26.1% under the age of 18 and 13.2% who were 64 years of age or older. Marriage status: 15.1% never married, 71.9% now married, 3.8% widowed, and 9.2% divorced.
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