How to Choose a CDL Training School near Alexandria Alabama
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Alexandria AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Alexandria home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to ensure you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address 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 drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the United States, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Alexandria AL, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries 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 more 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 drive 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. Several 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 operate certain types of vehicles, such as 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 qualified to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Alexandria AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are some more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Alexandria AL truck driver schools are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks 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 operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Alexandria AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking 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 teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual 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 drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Alexandria AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the Alexandria AL school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through 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? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Alexandria AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain Alexandria AL trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive 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 Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of 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 Alexandria AL schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Alexandria AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working 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 CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession in Alexandria AL. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? 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 get through the options and forms that must be completed in Alexandria AL.
Why Did You Want to Be a Truck Driver?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking job, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers often ask truck driving prospects is "What made you decide on trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a truck driver, but also what qualities and skills you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to trucking, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you must organize several strategies about how you would like to answer them. Because there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the best choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down several ideas and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
Select the Best Truck Driving School Alexandria AL
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to look into 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 choose an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Alexandria AL.
A Bit About Alexandria Alabama
Al Ittihad Alexandria Club
Al-Ittihad Alexandria is an Egyptian football club that plays in the Egyptian Premier League. The team was founded in 1914 in Alexandria. It has the third largest number of fans in Egypt, after Al Ahly and Zamalek. The club is the first club that rushed to endorse the idea of founding the Egyptian Football Association in 1921 which contributed to increased popularity in Alexandria.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
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