How to Find a CDL Training School near Camden Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Camden AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Camden residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll receive the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn 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 select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the USA, an operator must 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. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school near Camden AL, 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 descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive 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 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 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 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Camden AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Camden AL truck driver schools are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount 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 training and curriculum will measure up to 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 poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Camden AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining 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 professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Camden AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of 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 stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the Camden AL school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will furnish 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary between 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. Check with the Camden AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain Camden AL trucking 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 numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the Camden AL schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Camden AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career in Camden AL. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other trade or technical 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 least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed in Camden AL.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Tractor Trailer Operator?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's helpful to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the questions that interviewers often ask truck driving prospects is "What drove you to choose trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the private reasons you might have for becoming a trucking operator, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, along with a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to ready some strategies about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the best candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down a few concepts and topics that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
Pick the Ideal Truck Driving School Camden AL
Choosing the right truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to think about 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 school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Camden AL.
A Bit About Camden Alabama
What is now Camden was established on property donated by Thomas Dunn from his plantation holdings in order to have a new town founded on the site in 1833 to serve as the county seat. Dunn's Federal style house, built in 1825, is the oldest documented house in the town. The first county seat was in the community of Canton Bend.
The county seat was moved in 1833 to Barboursville, later renamed Camden. It had been named Barboursville in honor of United States Congressman Philip Barbour of Virginia. Incorporated in 1841, Camden was renamed by local physician John D. Caldwell in honor of his hometown of Camden, South Carolina.
The area depended on cultivation of cotton as a commodity crop, which was worked by numerous African-American slaves. The earliest documented industries in the town were a brickyard, sawmill, and window fabricator. The Camden Phenix was the town's earliest known newspaper. Townspeople founded a girls' school in 1844, the Wilcox Female Seminary and Female Institute, whose red-brick Greek-Revival style building was constructed from 1845–50. In 1976 the former school was adapted to house the Wilcox County Historical Society.
During the American Civil War, many in the community joined the Confederate cause. The county courthouse was ransacked by Union forces in 1865, but advance warning allowed county officials to remove the county records to a safe place (legend claims that they were buried in a coffin) prior to arrival of Union troops. Already devastated by the Civil War, Camden suffered fires during 1869 and 1870 that destroyed about two-thirds of the town. The town began to recover during the 1880s, with the first bank incorporated in 1894.
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