How to Pick the Right Truck Driver School near Wetumpka Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Wetumpka AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Wetumpka residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your objective 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 pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Wetumpka AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 choose a truck driver school, we will focus on 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 brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 operate 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Wetumpka AL trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Wetumpka AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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 get an ample amount 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Wetumpka AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Wetumpka AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s important 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 qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. 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.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, 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 differs between schools, a good 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 Wetumpka AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver 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 instead of maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Wetumpka AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit 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 believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Wetumpka AL school you enroll in 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 instructor should be willing to spend 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 fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Wetumpka AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Wetumpka 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 assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Wetumpka AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Wetumpka Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Wetumpka is a city in and the county seat of Elmore County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census the population was 6,528. In the early 21st century, Elmore County, became one of the fastest-growing counties in the state. Wetumpka identifies as "The City of Natural Beauty".  The city is considered part of the Montgomery Metropolitan Area.
Wetumpka identifies as "The City of Natural Beauty". Among the notable landmarks are the Wetumpka crater and the Jasmine Hill Gardens, with a full-sized replica of the Temple of Hera of Olympia, Greece. Historic downtown Wetumpka developed on both sides of the Coosa River. It was near Fort Toulouse, built by French colonists in 1717, when they had claimed this territory for the king.
The word Wetumpka is derived from the Muscogee language (Creek) phrase we-wau tum-cau. The name Wetumpka is a historic Creek place word meaning "rumbling waters", believed to be a description of the sound of the nearby Coosa River at the rapids of the Devil's Staircase. The roar of the rapids reportedly could be heard for miles before the construction in the 20th century of Walter Bouldin Dam and Jordan Dam, when the river was captured as a reservoir behind the dam.
Class B CDL Training Wetumpka AL
Selecting the right truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Class B CDL Training. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might 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 enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Wetumpka AL.
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