How to Choose the Right Truck Driving School near Pell City Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Pell City AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Pell City home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Pell City AL, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 choose a truck driver school, we will focus on 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 brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 needed to drive 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. Several 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 specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Pell City AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Pell City AL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving 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. On the other hand, even the best of Pell City AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Pell City AL schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish 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 operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Pell City AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific 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 having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Pell City AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Pell City AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Pell City AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Pell City AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. 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 completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Pell City AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Pell City Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Pell City, Alabama
Pell City is a city in St. Clair County, Alabama, United States. The city is the county seat of St. Clair County along with Ashville. At the 2000 census the population was 9,565. At the 2010 census, the city-limit population jumped to 12,695.
Pell City was founded in 1890 by railroad investors and named after George Pell of the Pell City Iron and Land Company, one of its financial backers. The city was incorporated on May 6, 1891, but nearly failed during the Panic of 1893. However, it was revived in 1902 when Sumter Cogswell built the Pell City Manufacturing Company, which subsequently became Avondale Mills, a major landmark of the town until Thunder Enterprises, a Tennessee company, bought the building and began dismantling the factory in 2008. However, on February 14, 2008 a fire started at the mill. The fire was so large it could be seen from the Chula Vista/ Springville exit on Interstate 20 (I20). It was a sad ending for the factory. However, the smokestack and water tower still stood. The mill was the economic and social center of the town during its development and early growth. Besides the textile mill, other economic endeavors included agriculture and mercantile establishments. Large cotton, soybean, and cattle farms were located in the area. Pell City increased its size in 1956 when the nearby towns of Eden and Oak Ridge were merged with the city. The first mayor was Green Evans.
The residences of Sumter Cogswell and Green Evans (Pell City’s first mayor) are two of the earliest structures, dating from the late nineteenth century. The majority of the historic structures date from 1902 to 1905.
Class A CDL Classes Pell City AL
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of 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 CDL Classes. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may need 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 choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Pell City AL.
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