How to Select a Truck Driver School near Shelby Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Shelby AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Shelby residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to make sure you’ll receive the right training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally in Alabama and within the United States, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school near Shelby AL, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Shelby AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some more points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Shelby AL trucking schools are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked 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 top Shelby AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker 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 experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers 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 obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Shelby AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though 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 vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the Shelby AL school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary 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 become. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Shelby AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from certain Shelby AL truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the Shelby AL schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Shelby AL school you select 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 prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career in Shelby AL. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed in Shelby AL.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Tractor Trailer Operator?When prepping to interview for a Trucking job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that interviewers often ask truck driving candidates is "What drove you to choose trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a trucking operator, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, in addition to a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should organize a number of strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the ideal choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down a few concepts and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Pick the Right Trucking School Shelby AL
Choosing the right truck driver school is an essential first step to starting 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 several options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower 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 option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Shelby AL.
A Bit About Shelby Alabama
Shelby County, Alabama
Shelby County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the population was 195,085. The county seat is Columbiana. The county is named in honor of Isaac Shelby, Governor of Kentucky from 1792 to 1796 and again from 1812 to 1816.
Shelby County was established on February 7, 1818, and it was named for the Revolutionary War hero and the first Governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby. Beginning in 1820, the first county seat was located at Shelbyville. This settlement, long defunct, was located within the modern city limits of Pelham. The first courthouse was built of logs. The seat was moved to Columbia, now Columbiana, in 1826. Initially housed in an old school building, a new brick courthouse building was completed in 1854. It is now known as the Old Shelby County Courthouse and houses the Shelby County Museum and Archives. The current limestone courthouse was built from 1905–06, at a cost of $300,000.
Shelby County was the home of an early inland waterway, the Coosa River, and it was also the location of a very early east-west railroad in Alabama that connected Atlanta, Georgia, with locations to its west. Shelby County was also crossed by an early north-south railroad, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, that connected Louisville, Nashville, Decatur, Birmingham, and Montgomery.
With the advent of the automobile and the truck, Shelby County was soon crossed from north to south by U.S. Highway 31, the major one that followed the same route as the Louisville and Nashville Railroad did. (All U.S. Highways, with "one" as their last of two digits are major north-south ones: e.g. U.S. 11, 21, 31, 41, 51, 61, and 71.) The eastern part of Shelby County was later crossed by U.S. Highway 231 and U.S. 280
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