How to Decide on a Trucking School near Tuskegee Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Tuskegee AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Tuskegee residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll get the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally in Alabama and within the USA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school near Tuskegee AL, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Tuskegee AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must 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 additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Tuskegee AL truck driving schools are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Tuskegee AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. 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 numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Tuskegee AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the Tuskegee AL school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Tuskegee AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of Tuskegee AL truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the Tuskegee AL schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Tuskegee AL school you enroll in offers 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 dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new profession in Tuskegee AL. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted in Tuskegee AL.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to consider questions you could be asked. Among the things that interviewers often ask truck driving prospects is "What made you select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a truck driver, but also what qualities and talents you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, as well as a significant number of general interview questions, so you must ready some strategies about how you want to answer them. Given that there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the talents you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the leading choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down several concepts and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Select the Ideal Truck Driving School Tuskegee AL
Picking the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even 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 choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Tuskegee AL.
A Bit About Tuskegee Alabama
Tuskegee University is a private, historically black university (HBCU) located in Tuskegee, Alabama, United States. It was established by Booker T. Washington. The campus is designated as the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site by the National Park Service and is the only one in the U.S. to have this designation. The university was home to scientist George Washington Carver and to World War II's Tuskegee Airmen.
Tuskegee University offers 40 bachelor's degree programs, 17 master's degree programs, a 5-year accredited professional degree program in architecture, 4 doctoral degree programs, and the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. The university is home to over 3,100 students from the U.S. and 30 foreign countries. Tuskegee University was ranked among 2015's best 379 colleges and universities by The Princeton Review and 5th among the 2015 U.S. News & World Report best HBCUs.
The university's campus was designed by architect Robert Robinson Taylor, the first African American to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The school was founded on July 4, 1881, as the Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers. This was a result of an agreement made during the 1880 elections in Macon County between a former Confederate Colonel, W.F. Foster, who was running on the democratic ticket and a local Black Leader and Republican, Lewis Adams. W.F. Foster propositioned that if Adams could successfully persuade the Black constituents to vote for Foster, if elected, Foster would push the state of Alabama to establish a school for Black people in the county. At the time the majority of Macon County population was Black, thus Black constituents had political power. Adams succeeded and Foster followed through with the school. The school became a part of the expansion of higher education for blacks in the former Confederate states following the American Civil War, with many schools founded by the northern American Missionary Association. A teachers’ school was the dream of Lewis Adams, a former slave, and George W. Campbell, a banker, merchant, and former slaveholder, who shared a commitment to the education of blacks. Despite lacking formal education, Adams could read, write, and speak several languages. He was an experienced tinsmith, harness-maker, and shoemaker and was a Prince Hall Freemason, an acknowledged leader of the African-American community in Macon County, Alabama.
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