How to Select a CDL Driving School near Leesburg Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Leesburg AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Leesburg home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to make certain you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the USA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near Leesburg AL, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 drive 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Leesburg AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Leesburg AL truck driving schools are accredited because of 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed 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 Leesburg AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good 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 segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Leesburg AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the Leesburg AL school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates between 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 Leesburg AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain Leesburg AL truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining 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 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 prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the Leesburg AL schools you are reviewing 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 locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Leesburg AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession in Leesburg AL. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. 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 Leesburg AL.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Tractor Trailer Operator?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to review questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask truck driving candidates is "What drove you to choose trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a truck driver, but also what qualities and talents you have that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, along with a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should prepare several strategies about how you want to address them. Since there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the strengths you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the leading choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down several concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
Choose the Right Truck Driver School Leesburg AL
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might 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 enroll in an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Leesburg AL.
A Bit About Leesburg Alabama
Leesburg was originally called Hamptonville; it was named for Joseph Hampton and the Henslee family respectively. A post office was established as Hamptonville in 1836, and in 1839 the name was changed to Leesburg.
Leesburg is located in western Cherokee County at 34°10'57.446" North, 85°46'8.350" West (34.182624, -85.768986). It is bordered by Lookout Mountain and the town of Sand Rock to the north and Weiss Lake on the Coosa River to the south. Weiss Dam, forming the lake, is located just south of the town limits.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,027 people, 409 households, and 298 families residing in the town. The population density was 160 people per square mile (61.8/km²). There were 663 housing units at an average density of 103.6 per square mile (39.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 96.5% White, 0.0% Native American, 0.0% Asian, 0.5% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. 1.3% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 409 households out of which 29.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.3% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.1% were non-families. 22.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 2.90.
More Cities of Interest in Alabama