How to Choose the Best CDL Driving Classes near Needham Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Needham AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Needham home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to make certain you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills 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 pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest 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 Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Needham AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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 CDL is required to drive 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 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Needham AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Needham AL area are accredited because of the stringent 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed 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 Needham 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 history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention 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 train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Needham AL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among 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. Check with the Needham AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Needham AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Needham AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Needham AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Needham AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Truck Driver School Needham Alabama
Picking the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Truck Driver School and wanting information on the topic Get My CDL. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Needham AL.
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As of the census of 2000, there were 97 people, 39 households, and 32 families residing in the town. The population density was 169.4 people per square mile (65.7/km²). There were 46 housing units at an average density of 80.3 per square mile (31.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 100.00% White.
There were 39 households out of which 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 71.8% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.9% were non-families. 17.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 2.81.
In the town, the population was spread out with 20.6% under the age of 18, 4.1% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 26.8% from 45 to 64, and 18.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.5 males.