How to Decide on the Right Trucking School near Vernon Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Vernon AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Vernon residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to ensure you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to master 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 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 Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Vernon AL, an operator must attain 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 choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 CDL 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. 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 need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Vernon AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below 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 trucking schools in the Vernon AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common 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. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Vernon AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Vernon AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method 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 satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Vernon AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? 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 specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Vernon AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver 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 benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Vernon AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time 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 holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Vernon AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Vernon AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Vernon AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Vernon Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Vernon is a city in Lamar County, Alabama, United States. The city is the county seat of Lamar County, and previously served as the seat of its two predecessors, Jones County (not to be confused with Covington County), which briefly existed in 1867, and for Sanford County from 1868 until it was renamed Lamar in 1877. It incorporated in 1870. At the 2010 census the population was 2,000, down from 2,143 in 2000. It is the largest city in Lamar County as of 2010, and previously held the distinction in 1880 and from 1960-1990, falling to 2nd place in 2000 behind Sulligent, but since reclaiming the title.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,143 people, 953 households, and 630 families residing in the city. The population density was 362.2 people per square mile (139.8/km²). There were 1,070 housing units at an average density of 180.9 per square mile (69.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.19% White, 12.65% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.05% Asian, and 0.89% from two or more races. 0.65% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 953 households out of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.5% were married couples living together, 18.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.8% were non-families. 32.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.19 and the average family size was 2.75.
CDL Training Schools Vernon AL
Choosing the right truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Training Schools. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Vernon AL.
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