How to Decide on the Right Trucking Classes near Union Springs Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Union Springs AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Union Springs residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to make certain you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest 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 Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Union Springs 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 pick a truck driver school, we will highlight 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 short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 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 require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Union Springs AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed 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 if not more important. So following are a few additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Union Springs AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Union Springs AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing 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 discuss 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 getting the individual instruction 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 drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Union Springs AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide plenty of 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Union Springs AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous 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. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Union Springs AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Union Springs AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. 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 Placement Provided? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Union Springs AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Union Springs AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Class A Truck Driving School Union Springs Alabama
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught 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 Class A Truck Driving School and wanting information on the topic CDL Training Schools. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to look into 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 trucking 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 regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Union Springs AL.
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Union Springs, Alabama
The area that became Union Springs was first settled by white men after the Creek Indian removal of the 1830s. Twenty-seven springs watered the land, giving rise to the name of Union Springs. The city was incorporated on January 13, 1844. When Bullock County was formed in 1866, voters selected Union Springs as the county seat.
Union Springs is located in southeastern Alabama near the center of Bullock County at 32°8'24.407" North, 85°42'46.094" West (32.140113, -85.712804). The source of the Conecuh River is within the city limits.
The city is located at the intersection of U.S. Route 82 and U.S. Route 29. Route 82 leads east 40 miles (64 km) to Eufaula and northwest 46 miles (74 km) to Montgomery, the state capital. Route 29 leads north 23 miles (37 km) to Tuskegee and southwest 40 miles (64 km) to Troy.