How to Enroll in the Best Trucking School near Saraland Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Saraland AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Saraland residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to ensure you’ll get the right 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 objective in mind, just how do you select 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 review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Saraland AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class 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). Following are short explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed 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 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 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 may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Saraland AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. 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 equally or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Saraland AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed 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 top Saraland AL schools had to start 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 job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent 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 verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Saraland AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will provide ample 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual 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 between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Saraland AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Saraland AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Saraland AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Saraland AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Saraland AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Getting Your CDL Saraland Alabama
Choosing the right truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance 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 critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Getting Your CDL and wanting information on the topic How To Obtain A Class B CDL. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to consider 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 enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Saraland AL.
Truck On in These Other Alabama Locations
Saraland is a city in Mobile County, Alabama, United States, and a suburb of Mobile. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 13,405. It is a part of the Mobile metropolitan area. Saraland is the third largest city in Mobile County.
The land area that was to become the present-day Saraland, was included in a Spanish land grant to Don Diego Alvarez. Hence, descendants of Alvarez were the ones to give the community its first name: Alvarez Station. Later land squatters moved into the area and were able, legally, in 1800 to begin purchasing property. In 1807, a land office was opened in St. Stephens to handle all land transactions. Some of the pioneer families who seized the opportunity to buy up sections were named Alvarez, Rice, Hartley, Moore, LaCoste, Williams, Tool and Cleveland. Ultimately, Alvarez Station was called Cleveland Station. The present name of the city is reported to have been given by C.J. DeWitt, a retired minister editor who moved south in 1890 for health reasons. He opened the first post office on the Southern Railroad in 1895. The community is purported to be the namesake of his beloved wife, Sara.
Saraland was sparsely populated during the first part of the 20th century, until an industrial and population boom occurred in neighboring Mobile. Northward expansion of Mobile in the 1940s and 50s brought about the incorporation of Saraland in 1957. At the time of incorporation, the city reported only 125 residents. By the 1960 U.S. Census, annexations had swelled the population to 4,595. In 1980, census figures cited 9,844 Saraland residents. Current census records report that as of 2017, Saraland's population is estimated to have grown to 14,576.
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