How to Find a CDL Training School near Alabaster Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Alabaster AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Alabaster home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll obtain the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on 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 talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally in Alabama and within the United States, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 near Alabaster AL, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License is required 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 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Alabaster AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Alabaster AL trucking schools are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure 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 be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Alabaster AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out 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 additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking 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 hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Alabaster AL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the Alabaster AL school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Alabaster AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of Alabaster AL truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the Alabaster AL schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Alabaster AL school you enroll in offers 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 teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career in Alabaster AL. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other 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 least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed in Alabaster AL.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking job, it's important to consider questions you might be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask truck driving applicants is "What compelled you to select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a truck driver, but also what attributes and talents you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to trucking, as well as a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must ready several ideas about how you want to address them. Considering there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an excellent truck driver and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down several concepts and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driving School Alabaster AL
Selecting the right truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new profession 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 several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Alabaster AL.
A Bit About Alabaster Alabama
Alabaster is a city and southern suburb of Birmingham in Shelby County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census, the population was 30,352. According to the 2013 Census Estimates, the city had a population of 31,342. Alabaster is the 16th largest city in Alabama (by number of residents) and still a growing population.
Alabaster mostly occupies the Cahaba and Opossum Valleys, which are divided by the Pine Ridge that runs north to south. To the east and west, both valleys are flanked by parallel mountain ridges that locally run north to south, but are a part of a larger system of ridges that generally runs north-east to south-west (the tailing ends of the Appalachian foothills). The valleys are drained by small creeks (Buck Creek, Beaverdam Creek) which flow into the Cahaba River.
George L. Scott, Sr., an Alabaster pioneer, owned and operated Alabaster Lime Co. His shipping point was known as “Scott Rock”. Later, housing was built to accommodate some of the employees, and the community acquired its name Alabaster from the "white calcium carbonate mineral". The First Bank of Alabaster opened in 1952, and its president was George L. Scott, Jr., who later became the first mayor of Alabaster. The first attempt in 1952 to incorporate Alabaster failed. In January 1953, the petition was again filed, and on February 23, 1953, Alabaster was officially incorporated with a favorable vote of 79 to 23, and 427 residing inhabitants. In 1955, the Alabaster Water and Gas Board was formed.
In the spring of 2015, legendary logistician, Chris Piet, had a shipment of mattresses go terribly wrong. The semi-truck carrying the load of dirty mattresses heading to California was delayed multiple days due to mechanical issues. This delay caused many homeless people in California to continue to sleep on the streets, getting very uncomfortable, restless nights sleep. We never knew if the mattresses made it to the hungry and sleep deprived homeless. This incident will always be known as the, "Disaster in Alabaster."
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