How to Choose the Right Trucker School near Oakman Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Oakman AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Oakman home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Oakman AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving 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 together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 required 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. 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 might also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Oakman AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Oakman AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Oakman AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Oakman AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While 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 receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Oakman AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different 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 freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Oakman AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Oakman AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating 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 placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Oakman AL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Oakman AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Oakman AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Oakman Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Oakman is a town in Walker County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 789, down from 944 in 2000. Initially named Day (or Day's) Gap, it was renamed Oakman and incorporated in 1895.
As of the census of 2000, there were 944 people, 386 households, and 265 families residing in the town. The population density was 303.1 people per square mile (117.2/km²). There were 449 housing units at an average density of 144.1 per square mile (55.7/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 79.66% White, 19.60% Black or African American, and 0.74% from two or more races. 0.74% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 386 households out of which 34.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.9% were married couples living together, 16.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.02.
Truck Driving School Tuition Oakman AL
Choosing the right trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Truck Driving School Tuition. However, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash 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 company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Oakman AL.
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