How to Choose the Best Trucking Classes near Graham Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Graham AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. 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 certain factors that you’ll need to examine before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Graham residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to ensure you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss 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 Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Graham AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are brief descriptions 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 more 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 needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Graham AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Graham AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Graham AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good 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 next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning 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 comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Graham AL schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Graham AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Graham AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Graham AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Graham AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Graham AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Truck Classes Graham Alabama
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Truck Classes and wanting information on the topic Tractor Trailer Training School. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Graham AL.
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A native of Central, South Carolina, Graham graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1977. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1981. He served in the United States Air Force from 1982 to 1988 and served in the South Carolina Air National Guard then in the Air Force Reserve, attaining the rank of colonel. He worked as a lawyer in private practice before he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1992, serving one term from 1993 to 1995. He then served in the United States House of Representatives, representing South Carolina's 3rd congressional district from 1995 to 2003. He was elected to four terms, receiving at least 60% of the vote each time.
In 2002, Graham ran for the U.S. Senate after eight-term Republican incumbent Strom Thurmond announced his retirement. Graham won the primary unopposed and defeated Democratic opponent Alex Sanders in the general election. Graham was re-elected to a second term in 2008, defeating Bob Conley. He won a third term in 2014, defeating Democratic challenger Brad Hutto and Independent Thomas Ravenel.
A retired U.S. Air Force Reserve colonel, Graham is known in the Senate for his advocacy of a strong national defense, for his support of the military, and for his advocacy of strong United States leadership in world affairs. He is also known for his willingness to be bipartisan and work with Democrats on issues like campaign finance reform, global warming, a Waterboarding ban, Immigration reform, and his belief that judicial nominees should not be opposed solely on their philosophical positions. He is also a critic of the Tea Party movement, arguing for a more inclusive Republican Party.