How to Pick a Truck Driving School near Talladega Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Talladega AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers 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 evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Talladega home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally in Alabama and within the USA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify 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 Talladega 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). Following are short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Talladega AL trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Talladega AL truck driver schools are accredited due to the demanding process and expense 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 standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Talladega AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Talladega AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the Talladega AL school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish sufficient 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. 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 no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Talladega AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some Talladega AL truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular 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 numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out 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 third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the Talladega AL schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Talladega AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career in Talladega AL. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed in Talladega AL.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Tractor Trailer Operator?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's a good idea to consider questions you could be asked. Among the things that recruiters often ask truck driving applicants is "What made you pick trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the private reasons you might have for becoming a trucking operator, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to organize some ideas about how you would like to answer them. Given that there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional truck driver and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down a few concepts and anecdotes that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driving School Talladega AL
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Talladega AL.
A Bit About Talladega Alabama
Talladega /ˌtæləˈdɪɡə/ is a city in Talladega County, Alabama, United States. It was incorporated in 1835. At the 2010 census the population was 15,676. The city is the county seat of Talladega County. Talladega is approximately 50 miles (80 km) east of Birmingham.
The city is home to the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind and the Talladega Municipal Airport, a public general aviation airport. The Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega College and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame are located nearby. The First National Bank of Talladega is the oldest bank in the State of Alabama, being founded in 1848.
The name Talladega is derived from a Muscogee (Creek) Native American word Tvlvtēke, from the Creek tvlwv, meaning "town", and vtēke, meaning "border" – indicating its location on the border between the Creeks and the Natchez. While the town's name is pronounced /ˌtæləˈdɪɡə/ by local inhabitants, the racetrack's name is pronounced /ˌtæləˈdeɪɡə/ by auto racing fans.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.1 square miles (62.3 km2), of which 24.0 square miles (62.1 km2) is land and 0.077 square miles (0.2 km2), or 0.30%, is water.
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