How to Pick the Best Trucking Classes near Greenville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Greenville AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Greenville residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll obtain the proper education. Just remember, 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 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Greenville AL, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes 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, 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 short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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. Several 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 specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Greenville AL trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Greenville AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, 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 program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy 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 operation. A poorly ranked 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 Greenville AL schools had to start from their opening 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 job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Greenville AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, 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 a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good 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 Greenville AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Greenville AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Greenville AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed 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 obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Greenville AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Greenville AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Best Truck Driving Schools Greenville Alabama
Picking the right trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Best Truck Driving Schools and wanting information on the topic How Can I Get A CDL License. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, 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 entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Greenville AL.
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Greenville is a city in Butler County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 8,135. The city is the county seat of Butler County and is known as the Camellia City. The movement to change the official Alabama state flower from the goldenrod to the camellia originated in Greenville with legislative sponsors LaMont Glass and H.B. Taylor.
Greenville was first settled in 1819. Its original name was Buttsville, but after becoming the county seat in 1822, its name was changed to Greenville, in remembrance of the former locale in South Carolina of many of the original settlers. The first county seat was at Fort Dale, a fortification that was named for Sam Dale, who fought to defend the area during the Creek War. The site of Fort Dale lies on the north of the city near the Fort Dale Cemetery, along what is now Alabama Highway 185.
The namesake of the county, Captain William Butler, was killed during the Creek War. He is buried in the Pioneer Cemetery, which is across from the oldest church in Butler County, the First United Methodist Church of Greenville.