How to Pick the Right CDL Training School near Point Clear Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Point Clear AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Point Clear residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to ensure you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Point Clear AL, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Point Clear AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Point Clear AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Point Clear AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking 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 ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Point Clear AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional 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 instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some 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, an excellent truck driving 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, 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. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Point Clear AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Point Clear AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Point Clear AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend 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 attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio 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 poor job placement rate or few Point Clear AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Point Clear AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
CDL Class Point Clear Alabama
Selecting the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation 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 many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Class and wanting information on the topic Best CDL Training. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money 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 choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Point Clear AL.
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Point Clear, Alabama
Point Clear is an unincorporated census-designated place (CDP) in Baldwin County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 2,125. It is part of the Daphne–Fairhope–Foley Micropolitan Statistical Area.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,876 people, 741 households, and 546 families residing in the community. The population density was 331.1 people per square mile (127.7/km²). There were 997 housing units at an average density of 176.0 per square mile (67.9/km²). The racial makeup of the community was 56.13% White, 42.70% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.05% from other races, and 0.80% from two or more races. 0.59% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 741 households out of which 27.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.7% were married couples living together, 15.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.2% were non-families. 23.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 2.98.
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