How to Select the Right Truck Driving School near Dothan Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Dothan AL. Perhaps 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 found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Dothan home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick 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 discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Dothan AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Dothan AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are several more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Dothan AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots 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 Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Dothan AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is particularly 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 comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Dothan AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Dothan AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with a wide range of 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 giving up 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 only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Dothan AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Dothan AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Dothan AL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Dothan AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Dothan AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Dothan Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Dothan /ˈdoʊθən/ is a city in Dale, Henry, and Houston counties in the U.S. state of Alabama. It is the largest city and county seat of Houston County, with a population of 65,496 at the 2010 census. It is located in the state's southeastern corner, approximately 20 miles (32 km) west of the Georgia state line and 16 miles (26 km) north of Florida. Its name was taken from Genesis 37:17: "let us go to Dothan."
Dothan is the principal city of the Dothan, Alabama metropolitan area, which encompasses all of Geneva, Henry, and Houston counties; the small portion that lies in Dale County is part of the Ozark Micropolitan Statistical Area. The combined population for the entire Dothan metropolitan area in 2010 was 145,639. The city serves as the main transportation and commercial hub for a significant part of southeastern Alabama, southwest Georgia, and nearby portions of the Florida Panhandle. Since approximately one-fourth of the U.S. peanut crop is produced nearby, with much of it being processed in the city, Dothan is sometimes referred to as "The Peanut Capital of the World". Dothan also hosts the annual National Peanut Festival at the dedicated "Peanut Festival Fairgrounds".
The area that is now Dothan was inhabited for thousands of years by successive cultures of indigenous peoples. In historic times it was occupied by the Alabama and Creek Native American tribes who were hunters and gatherers in the vast forests of pine that covered this region. These tribes had developed complex cultures, and often used to meet and camp for trading near a large spring at the crossroads of two trails.
Class B CDL School Dothan AL
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Class B CDL School. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even 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 many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Dothan AL.
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