How to Find the Best CDL Driving School near Palmerdale Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Palmerdale AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential 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 need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Palmerdale home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll receive the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That 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 Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Palmerdale AL, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 CDL is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 drive certain types 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 license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Palmerdale AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Palmerdale AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense 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. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. 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 best of Palmerdale AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, 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 individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes 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 skillfully requires time. The majority of Palmerdale 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 instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will furnish plenty 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Palmerdale AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Palmerdale AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Palmerdale AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Palmerdale AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Palmerdale AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
CDL Driving Schools Near Me Palmerdale Alabama
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to launching 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 vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Driving Schools Near Me and wanting information on the topic CDL Training Requirements. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Palmerdale AL.
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Palmerdale is an area in Jefferson County, Alabama, United States. Most of the community falls within the city limits of Pinson. Palmerdale is located on Alabama State Route 75, 4 miles (6.4 km) north-northeast of the downtown area of Pinson.
The community traces its history back to the Great Depression and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Resettlement Administration, part of the New Deal. Palmerdale Homestead was established to bring impoverished people out of urban areas, setting them up with small farms in nearby rural areas. Originally named Palmer Station for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad station that served the area, the name was changed to Palmerdale in the 1930s.
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