How to Choose the Right Truck Driving School near Shelby Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Shelby AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Shelby home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to make certain you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified 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 remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Shelby AL, an operator 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. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 operate 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 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Shelby AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Shelby AL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks 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 negatively 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 Shelby AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, 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 professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Shelby AL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some 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 furnish plenty 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Shelby AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different 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 giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Shelby AL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Shelby AL school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 Placement Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Shelby AL employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Shelby AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
CDL B Training Shelby Alabama
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation 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 several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL B Training and wanting information on the topic Truck Driver Education. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Shelby AL.
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Shelby County, Alabama
Shelby County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 195,085. The county seat is Columbiana. The county is named in honor of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky from 1792 to 1796 and again from 1812 to 1816.
Shelby County was established on February 7, 1818, and it was named for the Revolutionary War hero and the first Governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby. Beginning in 1820, the first county seat was located at Shelbyville. This settlement, long defunct, was located within the modern city limits of Pelham. The first courthouse was built of logs. The seat was moved to Columbia, now Columbiana, in 1826. Initially housed in an old school building, a new brick courthouse building was completed in 1854. It is now known as the Old Shelby County Courthouse and houses the Shelby County Museum and Archives. The current limestone courthouse was built from 1905–06, at a cost of $300,000.
Shelby County was the home of an early inland waterway, the Coosa River, and it was also the location of a very early east-west railroad in Alabama that connected Atlanta, Georgia, with locations to its west. Shelby County was also crossed by an early north-south railroad, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, that connected Louisville, Nashville, Decatur, Birmingham, and Montgomery.
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