How to Find the Right Trucking School near Theodore Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Theodore AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Theodore residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to make certain you’ll get the right 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 purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Theodore AL, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver 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 B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind 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 two 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. Several 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 operate 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. A few 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Theodore AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Theodore AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess 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 top Theodore AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to verify 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 hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, 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 look out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Theodore AL schools offer 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 Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several 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 teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide ample 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Theodore AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with numerous 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Theodore AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Theodore AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Theodore AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Theodore 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 aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Theodore AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Theodore Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Theodore is a census-designated place (CDP) in Mobile County, Alabama, United States. The population was 6,130 at the 2010 census. It is a part of the Mobile metropolitan statistical area. Prior to 1900 this area was known as Clements, but is now named for William Theodore Hieronymous (a sawmill operator and postmaster).
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,811 people, 2,483 households, and 1,926 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 571.6 people per square mile (220.6/km²). There were 2,697 housing units at an average density of 226.3 per square mile (87.4/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 71.11% White, 25.58% Black or African American, 0.62% Native American, 1.29% Asian, 0.41% from other races, and 1.00% from two or more races. 1.38% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 2,483 households out of which 38.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.6% were married couples living together, 19.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.4% were non-families. 19.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.11.
CDL Schools Theodore AL
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets 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 vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Schools. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to consider 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 enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Theodore AL.
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