How to Select the Best Trucking Classes near Jacksonville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Jacksonville AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Jacksonville residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Jacksonville AL, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 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. Several 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 might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Jacksonville AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Jacksonville AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For 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 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 poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Jacksonville AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Jacksonville AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual 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 she or he will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Jacksonville AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Jacksonville AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several 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 schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Jacksonville AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. 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 Assistance Provided? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating 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 companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Jacksonville AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Jacksonville AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Weekend CDL Training Jacksonville Alabama
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Weekend CDL Training and wanting information on the topic Truck Driver School. However, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Jacksonville AL.
Truck On in These Other Alabama Locations
Jacksonville is a city in Calhoun County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census the population was 12,548, which is a 49% increase since 2000. It is included in the Anniston-Oxford Metropolitan Statistical Area. Jacksonville State University is located here, which is a center of commerce and one of the largest employers in the area.
Jacksonville was founded in 1833 on land purchased from Creek Indian Chief "Du-Hoag" Ladiga. First called Drayton, the town was renamed to honor President Andrew Jackson in 1834. There are a couple Civil War monuments in town, including a statue of Major John Pelham in the city cemetery and a statue of a Confederate soldier in the middle of the square. Jacksonville served as the county seat for Calhoun County until the 20th century when it moved to Anniston. Jacksonville State University was founded here in 1883.
An EF3 tornado hit Jacksonville on March 19, 2018, causing extensive damage to the city and Jacksonville State University, almost $42 million in damages. The relatively low number of casualties, specifically just four injuries, was attributed by some to the fact that the university was on spring break at the time. More than 1,000 volunteers assisted in the immediate tornado relief. Caleb Howard, then a senior at Jacksonville State University, said that "[i]t's been amazing to see the university and the community come together." Classes resumed at the university the following month. Although the university's usual site for graduation, Pete Mathews Coliseum, was damaged in the tornado along with over 20 other buildings, the first spring graduation since the tornado proceeded as scheduled on May 4 outside the football stadium. Dr. John Beeler, the university's president, said "It's a joyous event generally because you're celebrating the accomplishments of all your graduates, but it's an even more joyous event because to me it's a celebration of how far we've come in a short time in recovering from these tornadoes."