How to Pick the Right Truck Driving School near Fultondale Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Fultondale AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Fultondale residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the optimal means to make certain you’ll receive the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder 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 Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Fultondale AL, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 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 needed 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Fultondale AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Fultondale AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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 several advantages. Prospective 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 mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks 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 negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Fultondale AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining 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 professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Fultondale AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential 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 criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement 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 reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Fultondale AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Fultondale AL schools you are considering are captive or independent 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, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Fultondale AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Fultondale AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Fultondale AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing 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 Fultondale AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Fultondale Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
This area was once known as Fulton Springs. Prior to the building of Interstate 65, US 31 was the main route for travelers northbound from Birmingham towards Nashville, Tennessee. As a result, hotels such as the Keystone Lodge and Buchmann Motor Inn prospered. On the city's southern edge was located one of the few drive-in theatres in the Birmingham area (the "Skyview"). This was torn down when I-65 was built in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Pine Bowl bowling alley is still a long time fixture in the city.Traces of the old routing of US 31 are still noticeable in the city. From just south of the city hall to an old bridge on this city's northern side, most of this old routing is known as Stouts Road or in some cases simply "old US 31."
Fultondale was a relatively stagnant community until the last decade. Growth has occurred in residential areas mainly west of Interstate 65, while retail development has focused along and near the I-65/Walkers Chapel Road exit.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.2 square miles (32 km2), all land. Fultondale is located along one of the many ridgelines that comprise the southern end of the Appalachian Mountain chain. The area has been thoroughly mined for coal and other minerals in the past 100 years. The city is served by two major north/south highways, Interstate 65 and US Highway 31. The new Interstate 22 encroaches on the city's western edge and on June 20, 2016, the interchange with I-65 just south of Fultondale opened. I-22 will provide direct interstate access to Memphis, Tennessee. Upon completion of Interstate 22, Fultondale will become the fourth Alabama city (after Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile) to be directly served by more than one two-digit interstate highway (I-65 & I-22). The only east/west thoroughfare of note is Walkers Chapel Road (west of US 31) and New Castle Road (east of US 31). Rail lines run north/south along the city's eastern edge from Boyles Yard in Tarrant to points north and east. Air travel is available from nearby Birmingham International Airport.
CDL B Training Fultondale AL
Picking the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to launching 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 many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL B Training. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to think about 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 several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Fultondale AL.
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