How to Decide on the Right CDL Training School near Headland Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Headland AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Headland home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to guarantee you’ll receive the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified 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 address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Headland AL, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply 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 discuss Class A and Class 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). Below are brief descriptions of 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 more 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 more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Headland AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Headland AL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Headland AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly 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 drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Headland AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several 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 important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. After all, 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, 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. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Headland AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Headland AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Headland AL school you enroll in 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 prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job 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 attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Headland AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Headland AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out 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.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Headland AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Headland Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Headland is the largest city in Henry County, Alabama, United States. It is part of the Dothan, Alabama's metropolitan area. At the 2010 census the population was 4,510, up from 3,523 at the 2000 census. Ray Marler is the current mayor.
The Headland Public Square was laid off in 1871 by J.J. Head with a vision for a branch courthouse. Henry County voters decided in the 1879 and 1885 courthouse site elections not to locate a courthouse on the public square. Henry has been Alabama's only county with three courthouses at the same time.
Headland incorporated in 1884 with 26 white and 4 black petitioners. The railroad was built in 1893 along with the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Depot. The depot was added to the National Register of Historic Places on September 4, 1980. It has since been disassembled.
Weekend CDL Training Headland AL
Picking the right truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Weekend CDL Training. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving 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 choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Headland AL.
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