How to Choose the Best Trucking School near Sylacauga Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Sylacauga AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Sylacauga residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you’ll receive the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Sylacauga AL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since 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 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 CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 required 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Sylacauga AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Sylacauga AL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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 caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated 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 Sylacauga AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, 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 personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Sylacauga AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful 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. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good 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 real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among 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. Contact the Sylacauga AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Sylacauga AL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Sylacauga AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio 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 few Sylacauga AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Sylacauga AL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Obtaining CDL License Sylacauga Alabama
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available 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 Obtaining CDL License and wanting information on the topic Trucker Schools. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated 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 America move as a professional truck driver in Sylacauga AL.
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Sylacauga is known for its fine white marble bedrock. This was discovered shortly after settlers moved into the area and has been quarried ever since. The marble industry was the first recorded industry in the Sylacauga area.
Sylacauga is the site of the first documented case of an object from outer space hitting a person. On November 30, 1954, a 4 kg (9 lb) piece of what became known as the Hodges Meteorite crashed through the roof of an Oak Grove house, bounced off a radio, and badly bruised Mrs. Ann Hodges, who was taking an afternoon nap.
The first historical account of the area comes from de Soto's chroniclers as he marched south along the east bank of the Coosa River in 1540, encountering the town of Talisi at the edges of the Mississippian-era chiefdoms of Coosa and Tuskaloosa. The inhabitants of the Coosa River Valley were later united as the Creek Indians, whose encounters with the Spanish and French had a significant influence on the history of Sylacauga. Events that occurred between these three groups were partly responsible for the settlement of the village of Chalakagay in 1748 near modern Sylacauga by refugee Shawnee Indians led by Peter Chartier, and Chalakagay was later listed in the French territorial records in 1759 as being a town inhabited by 50 Shawnee Indian warriors. Late in the summer of 1836 all of the Indians remaining in Alabama were taken west by the United States government. The name Sy-la-cau-ga is derived from the Indian words Chalaka-ge which mean "The Place of the Chalaka Tribe". The city was first incorporated in 1838 as Syllacoga and again in 1887 as Sylacauga.