How to Find the Best CDL Driving Classes near Summerdale Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Summerdale AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Summerdale residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate training. 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 choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Summerdale AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 required to operate 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. A few 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Summerdale AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Summerdale AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Summerdale AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers 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 look out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Summerdale AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide sufficient 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Summerdale AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Summerdale AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Summerdale AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen 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, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Summerdale AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Summerdale AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Getting A CDL License Summerdale Alabama
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to launching 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 offered 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 Getting A CDL License and wanting information on the topic Truck Driver Training. However, you must get the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash 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 trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Summerdale AL.
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Summerdale is a rural town in south-central Baldwin County, Alabama, United States. It is the site of the Naval Outlying Field Summerdale. At the 2010 census the population was 862. It is part of the Daphne–Fairhope–Foley Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Summerdale is located at 30°29'15.468" North, 87°42'4.036" West (30.487630, -87.701121).Alabama State Route 59 passes along the west side of the town, leading north 5 miles (8 km) to Robertsdale and south 6 miles (10 km) to Foley.
As of the census of 2000, there were 655 people, 255 households, and 184 families residing in the town. The population density was 125.7 people per square mile (48.5/km²). There were 282 housing units at an average density of 54.1 per square mile (20.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 90.23% White, 4.89% Black or African American, 1.07% Native American, 0.15% Asian, 0.92% from other races, and 2.75% from two or more races. Nearly 2.29% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
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