How to Choose the Right CDL Training Classes near Cherokee Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Cherokee AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Cherokee residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Cherokee AL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 drive 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. A few 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Cherokee AL trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Cherokee AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, 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. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Cherokee AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. 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 instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Cherokee AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver 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 training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Cherokee AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as 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 work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Cherokee AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer 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 authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Cherokee AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads 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 few Cherokee AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Cherokee AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Top Truck Driving Schools Cherokee Alabama
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new profession 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 many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Top Truck Driving Schools and wanting information on the topic CDL Driving Schools. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may 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 choose an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Cherokee AL.
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Cherokee is a town in west Colbert County, Alabama, United States. It is part of the Florence–Muscle Shoals metropolitan area, known as "The Shoals". As of the 2010 census, the population of the town was 1,048.
Cherokee is situated along U.S. Route 72 west of Muscle Shoals and a few miles east of the Alabama-Mississippi state line. The Tennessee River passes to the northeast. Via US-72, Tuscumbia, the county seat of Colbert County, is 18 mi (29 km) east, and Iuka, Mississippi is 14 mi (23 km) northwest.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,237 people, 510 households, and 370 families residing in the town. The population density was 552.5 people per square mile (213.2/km2). There were 557 housing units at an average density of 248.8 per square mile (96.0/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 78.33% White, 20.21% Black or African American, 0.32% Native American, and 1.13% from two or more races. 0.49% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.