How to Select the Best CDL Driving School near Safford Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Safford AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Safford residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to ensure you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Safford AL, an operator must 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. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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 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 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. Several 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 require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Safford AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Safford AL area are accredited because of the demanding 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Safford 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 relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. 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 reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk 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 obtaining 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 teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Safford AL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing 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 good truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Safford AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Safford AL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted 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 competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Safford 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 particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Safford AL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Safford AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
CDL License Training Safford Alabama
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold 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 CDL License Training and wanting information on the topic Truck Driving Courses. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to consider 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 truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several 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 Safford AL.
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