How to Find a CDL Training School near Cullman Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Cullman AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Cullman home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to make sure you’ll obtain the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance 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 lawfully in Alabama and within the United States, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Cullman AL, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations for 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 more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 kinds of vehicles, for example 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 operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Cullman AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Cullman AL truck driver schools are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated 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 calls for 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Cullman AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
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 next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, 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 look out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Cullman AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two 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 methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the Cullman AL school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish ample 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Cullman AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of Cullman AL truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive 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.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the Cullman AL schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? 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 Cullman AL school you choose 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 prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. 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? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession in Cullman AL. Make sure that the schools you are looking at 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 companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other trade or technical 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 aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted in Cullman AL.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Truck Driver?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's a good idea to review questions you may be asked. One of the questions that interviewers often ask truck driving applicants is "What drove you to pick trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a truck driver, but also what characteristics and talents you have that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready a number of ideas about how you want to address them. Because there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the abilities you possess that make you an excellent truck driver and the best choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down several concepts and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Choose the Ideal Trucking School Cullman AL
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Cullman AL.
A Bit About Cullman Alabama
Cullman County, Alabama
Cullman County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population was 80,406. Its county seat is Cullman. Its name is in honor of Colonel John G. Cullmann. It is a "moist" county in terms of availability of alcoholic beverages; the cities of Cullman, Good Hope and Hanceville allow sale of alcohol and are "wet" and the rest of the county is dry.
Cullman County comprises the Cullman, AL Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, AL Combined Statistical Area.
Cullman is served by TV stations and FM radio stations from both Huntsville and Birmingham. Cullman County is a part of the designated market area, or "DMA," of Birmingham. Electricity in Cullman County is provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority and by the Alabama Power Company. For a long time, telephone service in this county was provided by the Southern Bell Company.
There is no commercial air transportation service in Cullman County, and this county is no longer served by intercity commercial buses.
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