How to Find a CDL Training School near Dixons Mills Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Dixons Mills AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Dixons Mills residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll receive the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable 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 discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally in Alabama and within the USA, 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. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Dixons Mills AL, we will discuss Class A and 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 descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Dixons Mills AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Dixons Mills AL truck driver schools are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Dixons Mills AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following 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 getting 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 time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Dixons Mills AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified 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 successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the Dixons Mills AL school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will provide ample 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 operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary among 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. Check with the Dixons Mills AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from some Dixons Mills AL truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the Dixons Mills AL schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Dixons Mills AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate 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 obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career in Dixons Mills AL. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted in Dixons Mills AL.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Tractor Trailer Operator?When preparing to interview for a Trucking position, it's advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask truck driving prospects is "What drove you to decide on trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a trucking operator, but also what qualities and skills you have that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you must prepare several approaches about how you would like to answer them. Because there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an exceptional truck driver and the leading candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down several ideas and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Choose the Ideal Trucking School Dixons Mills AL
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to consider 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 select an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Dixons Mills AL.
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