How to Select a Trucking School near Jackson Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Jackson AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Jackson residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you’ll receive the right training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder 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 Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the USA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 select a truck driver school near Jackson AL, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDL is required 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Jackson AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are a few more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Jackson AL trucking schools are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize 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 program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Jackson AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement 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 firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized 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 professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Jackson AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the Jackson AL school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. After all, 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential 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 between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Jackson AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some Jackson AL trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain 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.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the Jackson AL schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Jackson AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working 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 obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career in Jackson AL. Make sure that the schools you are looking at 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 hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted in Jackson AL.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. Among the questions that recruiters typically ask truck driving candidates is "What made you pick trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a trucking operator, but additionally what attributes and talents you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you should ready a number of strategies about how you would like to address them. Since there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary 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 have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
Select the Best Truck Driving School Jackson AL
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning 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 several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower 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 the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Jackson AL.
A Bit About Jackson Alabama
Jackson County, Alabama
Jackson County is the northeasternmost county in the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population was 53,227. The county seat is Scottsboro. It was named for Andrew Jackson, general in the United States Army and afterward President of the United States of America. Jackson County is a prohibition or dry county, however three cities within the county (Bridgeport, Scottsboro, and Stevenson) are wet.
Jackson County comprises the Scottsboro, AL Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is also included in the Chattanooga-Cleveland-Dalton, TN-GA-AL Combined Statistical Area.
Jackson County was established on December 13, 1819.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,127 square miles (2,920 km2), of which 1,078 square miles (2,790 km2) is land and 49 square miles (130 km2) (%) is water. It is the fifth-largest county in Alabama by total area. Much of it is located in the Appalachians.
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