Truck Driver Classes Opelika AL

How to Enroll in the Right Trucker Classes near Opelika Alabama

tractor truck in Opelika AL Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Opelika AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Opelika residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you’ll get the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master 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 pick 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 review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?

Opelika AL long haul tractor trailerIn order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Opelika AL, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are brief summaries of 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 greater 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 greater 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.

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How to Evaluate a CDL School

Opelika AL truck driving schoolOnce you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Opelika AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Opelika AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Opelika AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes 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. The majority of Opelika AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though 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 vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and talk to 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 quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.

Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Opelika AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Opelika AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Opelika AL school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Opelika AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Opelika AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.

Truck Driver Classes Opelika Alabama

Opelika AL long haul truckChoosing the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession 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 a number of 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 Truck Driver Classes and wanting information on the topic CDL Truck Driver Training.  However, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Opelika AL.

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    Opelika, Alabama

    Opelika (pronounced /ˌoʊpəˈlaɪkə/ OH-pə-LY-kə) is a city in and the county seat of Lee County in the east central part of the State of Alabama.[4] It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area. According to the 2013 Census Estimate, the population of Opelika was 28,635.[2] The Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA with a population of 150,933 which, along with the Columbus, Georgia metropolitan area and Macon County, Alabama, comprises the Greater Columbus, Georgia, a region home to 501,649 residents.

    The first white settlers in the area now known as Opelika arrived in the late 1830s and established a community called Lebanon. After the removal of the native Creek (Muscogee) peoples by federal troops in 1836-37, the area became known as "Opelika." This word taken from the Muskogee language means "large swamp".

    In 1848, the Montgomery and West Point Railroad Company extended a rail line from Montgomery, Alabama, to Opelika, and in 1851, completed a connection to West Point, Georgia, thus connecting Opelika with Atlanta, Georgia. This line was the only direct rail route between New Orleans and the Eastern Seaboard. It rapidly became one of the primary trade lines for shipments of raw cotton from Southern plantations to the North. The Montgomery and West Point was soon joined by a rail connection to Columbus, Georgia, in 1855, and a connection to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1869. Almost overnight, Opelika became a regional hub for commerce.

     

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