How to Find the Best Trucker Classes near Westover Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Westover AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Westover residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to make sure you’ll receive the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Westover AL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and 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). Below are brief 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 greater than 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Westover AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Westover AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Westover AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Westover AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide sufficient 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Westover AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted 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 what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Westover AL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are looking at 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 also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Westover AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Westover AL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Westover AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
How To Obtain A Class A CDL Westover Alabama
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Obtain A Class A CDL and wanting information on the topic Bus Driving School. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to look into 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 select an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Westover AL.
Truck On in These Other Alabama Locations
Westover Air Reserve Base
Westover Air Reserve Base (IATA: CEF, ICAO: KCEF, FAA LID: CEF) is an Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) installation located in the Massachusetts communities of Chicopee and Ludlow, near the city of Springfield, Massachusetts. Westover hosts the largest Air Reserve Base in the world in terms of area. Until 2011, it was a backup landing site for the NASA Space Shuttle and in the past few years has expanded to include a growing civilian access airport (Westover Metropolitan Airport) sharing Westover's military-maintained runways. The installation was named for Major General Oscar Westover who was commanding officer of the Army Air Corps in the 1930s.
The host unit is the 439th Airlift Wing (439 AW) of the Fourth Air Force (4 AF), Air Force Reserve Command. Outside of the AFRC command structure, the 439 AW and Westover are operationally gained by the Air Mobility Command (AMC).
In 1951, Air Defense Command arrived, but then turned over the base in 1955 to Strategic Air Command, which sent the 4050th, later 499th Air Refueling Wing, to operate from the base. The 99th Bombardment Wing arrived in 1956. In case of nuclear war, an alternate SAC command bunker, called The Notch, was constructed deep within nearby Bare Mountain.
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