How to Select the Right CDL Training Classes near Tuscumbia Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Tuscumbia AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Tuscumbia residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, 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 target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Tuscumbia AL, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries 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. 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 might also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Tuscumbia AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Tuscumbia AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Tuscumbia AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of 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 department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction 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 insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Tuscumbia AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Tuscumbia AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Tuscumbia AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Tuscumbia AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Tuscumbia AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Tuscumbia AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Student Truck Driver Tuscumbia Alabama
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Student Truck Driver and wanting information on the topic Truck Driver Schools Near Me. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Tuscumbia AL.
Truck On in These Other Alabama Locations
Tuscumbia was the hometown of Helen Keller (Ivy Green) and much of the city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Tuscumbia Historic District. The city serves as the location for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Tuscumbia had its beginnings when the Michael Dixon family arrived about 1816. They traded with Chief Tucumseh for the Tuscumbia Valley and built their home at the head of the big spring. From these humble dwellings quickly developed a village known as the Big Spring Community. The men of the community requested that the state legislature incorporate them as a city. The town was incorporated in 1820 as Ococoposa and is one of Alabama's oldest towns. In 1821, its name was changed to Big Spring and on December 22, 1822, to Tuscumbia, after the Chief Rainmaker of the Chickasaws.
Although shoals on the nearby Tennessee River made the river nearly impassable, a federal highway completed in 1820 provided the area with good access to markets. Tuscumbia soon became the center for agriculture in northern Alabama. A line to the town on the Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur Railroad was completed in 1832, and by 1850 Tuscumbia was a major railroad hub for train traffic throughout the South.