How to Select a CDL Training School near Robertsdale Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Robertsdale AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Robertsdale home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll get the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address 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 CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the USA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school near Robertsdale AL, we will discuss 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). Following are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 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 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 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 require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Robertsdale AL truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are a few more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Robertsdale AL trucking schools are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Robertsdale AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Robertsdale AL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the Robertsdale AL school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish lots of 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Robertsdale AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some Robertsdale AL truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the Robertsdale AL schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Robertsdale AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession in Robertsdale AL. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage 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 poor job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted in Robertsdale AL.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Tractor Trailer Operator?When prepping to interview for a Trucking job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters often ask truck driving candidates is "What made you decide on trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not only the private reasons you may have for being a truck driver, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you should prepare some approaches about how you want to respond to them. Because there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the best choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down a few concepts and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Pick the Best CDL School Robertsdale AL
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation 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 a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Robertsdale AL.
A Bit About Robertsdale Alabama
Robertsdale is located in southern Baldwin County at 30°33'16.034" North, 87°42'20.038" West (30.554454, -87.705566).U.S. Route 90 (Old Spanish Trail) passes through the city, leading west 24 miles (39 km) to Mobile and east 35 miles (56 km) to Pensacola, Florida.
As of the census of 2010, there were 5,276 people, 1,951 households, and 1,392 families residing in the city. The population density was 968 people per square mile (373.6/km²). There were 1,573 housing units at an average density of 357.3 per square mile (137.9/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 85.3% White, 5.4% Black or African American, 0.8% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 6.1% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. 9.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 1,951 households out of which 36.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.4% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.7% were non-families. 23.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the city, the population was 27.3% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 20.9% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.8 years. For every 100 females, there were 89.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.9 males. The median income for a household in the city was $41,750, and the median income for a family was $47,253. Males had a median income of $41,822 versus $26,239 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,696. About 8.1% of families and 10.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.2% of those under age 18 and 9.7% of those age 65 or over.
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