How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driving Classes near Valley Head Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Valley Head AL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Valley Head home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified 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 CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Valley Head AL, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify 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 highlight Class A and Class 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). Below are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate 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 CDL is needed to operate 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, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Valley Head AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Valley Head AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively 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 Valley Head AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Valley Head AL schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, 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. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving 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 necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Valley Head AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Valley Head 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 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Valley Head AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at 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 referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Valley Head AL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Valley Head 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
School For CDL Valley Head Alabama
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets 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 critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in School For CDL and wanting information on the topic Top Trucking Schools. However, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to think about 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 driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Valley Head AL.
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Valley Head, Alabama
Valley Head is a town in DeKalb County, Alabama, United States. Although the town incorporated in 1921, it was also listed as being incorporated on the 1890 U.S. Census. At the 2010 census the population was 558.
As of the census of 2000, there were 611 people, 244 households, and 175 families residing in the town. The population density was 175.3 people per square mile (67.6/km²). There were 269 housing units at an average density of 77.2 per square mile (29.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 92.47% White, 2.29% Black or African American, 0.65% Native American, 0.16% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, and 4.26% from two or more races. 2.29% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 244 households out of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.5% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.9% were non-families. 25.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 2.98.