How to Find a Trucking School near Newton Alabama
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Newton AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Newton home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best method to guarantee you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the USA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school near Newton AL, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 operate 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. 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 specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Newton AL trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Newton AL truck driving schools are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Newton AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record 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 maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Newton AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the Newton AL school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. 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 no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Newton AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some Newton AL truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations 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 giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the Newton AL schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Newton AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For 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 acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career in Newton AL. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed in Newton AL.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Trucker?When prepping to interview for a Trucking job, it's important to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the questions that recruiters typically ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to select trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for being a trucking operator, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must prepare a number of strategies about how you would like to answer them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the best candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down several concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
Pick the Right Truck Driver School Newton AL
Choosing the right trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance 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. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Newton AL.
A Bit About Newton Alabama
Newton is a town in Dale County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census its population was 1,511. Once the county seat of Dale County, Newton lost this distinction to nearby Ozark in 1870, and is now a small farming community. It incorporated in 1887. The city currently forms a part of the Ozark micropolitan statistical area.
Newton was founded in 1843 after the formation of Coffee County from Dale County's western half, which rendered the original county seat of Daleville off-center. The town was a scene for Confederate recruiting during the Civil War, and was the site of a battle in March 1865 between local Home Guard troops and elements of the 1st Florida Cavalry (US) operating out of Florida. The Federals were led by Joseph Sanders, a Dale County resident who had previously been a captain in the 31st Georgia Infantry, but had later switched sides and joined the Federals. Seeking to burn the county courthouse, the attackers were repulsed when local troops ambushed their column as they entered the town. This event is commemorated by a monument located in downtown Newton, and by annual re-enactments.
On December 3, 1864, a local Methodist minister named Bill Sketoe was lynched just north of Newton by local Home Guardsmen led by Captain Joseph Brear. Since Sketoe was tall, a hole had to be dug beneath his feet to accommodate his large frame. Local legend insists that "the hole that won't stay filled" never vanished—even after being filled in numerous times during the years that followed. Though covered in 1979 by a new bridge and tons of rip-rap, "Sketoe's hole" remains a local attraction, and was documented by Alabama writer Kathryn Tucker Windham in her 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. A monument to Sketoe was dedicated near the hanging site in 2006, and the local museum displays items of Sketoe memorabilia.
Following a fire which destroyed the courthouse in March 1869, and the formation of Geneva County in 1870 from the southern third of Dale and Coffee Counties, voters relocated the county seat to Ozark, which was more centralized.
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