How to Find a CDL Training School near Montevallo Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Montevallo AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Montevallo home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to make sure you’ll receive 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 professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose 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 review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the United States, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Montevallo AL, we will address 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 CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 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 may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Montevallo AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Montevallo AL trucking schools are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum 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 normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Montevallo AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following 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 personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims 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 skillfully takes time. The majority of Montevallo AL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the Montevallo AL school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Montevallo AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain Montevallo AL truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as 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 refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the Montevallo AL schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Montevallo 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 particular driving maneuver, then the instructor 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new career in Montevallo AL. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask 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 lower job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed in Montevallo AL.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Trucker?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's a good idea to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to pick trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a trucking operator, but also what characteristics and skills you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to trucking, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to organize some ideas about how you would like to address them. Because there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the best choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Pick the Right Truck Driver School Montevallo AL
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to think about 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 school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Montevallo AL.
A Bit About Montevallo Alabama
Montevallo is a city in Shelby County, Alabama, United States. A college town, it is the home of the University of Montevallo, a public liberal arts university with approximately 3,000 students. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city of Montevallo is 6,323. Dr. Hollie Campbell Cost, a professor in the College of Education at the University of Montevallo, serves as Mayor.
Montevallo is located at 33°6′18″N 86°51′46″W / 33.10500°N 86.86278°W / 33.10500; -86.86278 (33.1049, -86.8628). A plaque on Reynolds Cemetery Road, just off Alabama State Route 25, in the eastern corner of the town, marks the geographic center of the state of Alabama. Middle Street, formerly known as Main Street, had its name changed in 1899 for this reason, upon the completion of a new state survey.
The area where Montevallo is now was once controlled by the Creek Indians. After being acquired in 1814 Jesse Wilson claimed a small hill on the northern bank of the Shoal Creek and created a homestead there, making it the oldest settlement in Shelby County. Wilson's friends and family followed afterwards and also settled in the area, and a settlement known as Wilson's Hill developed on the site. The settlement's location at almost the exact center of Alabama meant it was considered one of the potential sites for the University of Alabama. In an attempt to encourage the university to choose the site the settlement changed its name to Montevallo, which is Italian for the hill in the valley.
Montevallo was used by local farmers as a market town where they could sell and package their produce. It was incorporated as a city in 1848. In 1853 a railway was built between Montevallo and Selma which allowed further economic growth to Montevallo and in 1856 a coal mine was created nearby leading to further growth.
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