How to Decide on a CDL Training School near Albertville Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Albertville AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Albertville residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll obtain the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations 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 address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the United States, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school near Albertville AL, we will highlight 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). Below are short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. 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 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. Some 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 operate certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Albertville AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Albertville AL trucking schools are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Albertville AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching 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 trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction 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 be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Albertville AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the Albertville AL school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, 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. And even though driving time differs among 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. Contact the Albertville AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from some Albertville AL truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having 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 less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the Albertville AL schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Albertville 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 certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote 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 fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career in Albertville AL. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted in Albertville AL.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Tractor Trailer Operator?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the things that recruiters frequently ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to choose trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a truck driver, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, along with a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready several approaches about how you would like to address them. Considering there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an exceptional truck driver and the best choice for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down several ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driver School Albertville AL
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation 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 critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even 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 company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Albertville AL.
A Bit About Albertville Alabama
The area which today includes Albertville was inhabited by the Cherokee Indians until their removal to Oklahoma in the 1830s. It was, however, near the territory of the Creek nation, and several major trails which afforded communication (or military action) between the two nations crossed the area. It is believed to have been crossed by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto during his expeditions in 1540.
The first non-indigenous settlement in what is today Albertville began in the 1850s, and the settlement was named for Thomas A. Albert, an early settler who moved from Georgia and was a town leader until his death in 1876. The city was incorporated in 1891. A post office was established in 1910.
At about 4:10 p.m. on April 24, 1908, the city was virtually wiped out by a tornado that became commonly called "The Great Cyclone," or "The Cyclone of 1908." The storm is believed to have killed 35 people across northeastern Alabama, including 15 in Albertville. Relief was largely delivered by railroad, particularly from the nearby city of Gadsden. Trains from Gadsden transported doctors, nurses, and the Queen City Guards, the Alabama militia company based in Gadsden. The commander of the latter, future Gadsden mayor and Col. R.A. Mitchell, reported in a dispatch to Governor B.B. Comer:
In 1893, the Alabama Legislature passed an act for the erection of an agricultural college in each of the state's Congressional districts. After some competition, Albertville was awarded the school for the Seventh District. This is the school that evolved into today's Albertville High School, whose sports teams are still known as the "Aggies."
More Cities of Interest in Alabama