How to Enroll in the Right Truck Driver School near Prattville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Prattville AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Prattville home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Prattville AL, a driver must 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. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving 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 together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Prattville AL trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Prattville AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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 several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Prattville AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional 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 hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater 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 regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Prattville AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Prattville 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 some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit 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 restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Prattville AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the schools you are reviewing 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 facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Prattville AL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit 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 accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Prattville AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Prattville AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Trucking School Prattville Alabama
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Trucking School and wanting information on the topic Truck Driving CDL Training. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to think about 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 trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Prattville AL.
Truck On in These Other Alabama Locations
Prattville is a city in Autauga and Elmore counties in the State of Alabama. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 33,960. Nicknamed "The Fountain City" due to the many artesian wells in the area, Prattville is part of the Montgomery metropolitan statistical area and serves as the county seat of Autauga County.
Prattville was founded in 1839 by industrialist and architect Daniel Pratt. The area was largely inhabited by Native Americans and a few settlers when Pratt, a native of Temple, New Hampshire, first observed the Autauga Creek in the 1830s. He purchased approximately 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) from Joseph May at $21.00 an acre, and set out to build his manufacturing facilities and the town along the banks of Autauga Creek. The location was chosen because the creek could supply power to the cotton gin manufacturing equipment. The town became an industrial center and rapidly grew. In 1868, it was named the county seat for Autauga County.
On February 17, 2008, Prattville was hit by an F3 tornado which destroyed more than 45 homes and businesses and damaged over 700. Twenty-nine people were injured with no fatalities. Preliminary estimates put the damage at $85 million in insured and uninsured damages.
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