How to Choose a Trucking School near Clanton Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Clanton AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Clanton residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll get the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder 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 Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the United States, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school near Clanton 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). Below are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Clanton AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Clanton AL trucking schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Clanton AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Clanton AL schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep 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 check out the Clanton AL school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement 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 can vary among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Clanton AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some Clanton AL trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified 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 maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire 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 allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the Clanton AL schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Clanton AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession in Clanton AL. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to 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 assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted in Clanton AL.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's helpful to review questions you may be asked. Among the things that hiring managers typically ask truck driving prospects is "What drove you to choose trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a trucking operator, but additionally what attributes and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to prepare some strategies about how you want to address them. Because there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the talents you possess that make you an excellent truck driver and the best candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down some ideas and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Select the Ideal Truck Driver School Clanton AL
Picking the right trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Clanton AL.
A Bit About Clanton Alabama
Clanton is a city in Chilton County, Alabama, United States. It is part of the Birmingham–Hoover–Cullman Combined Statistical Area. At the 2010 census the population was 8,619. The city is the county seat of Chilton County. Clanton is the site of the geographic center of the U.S state of Alabama.
The town was founded by Alfred Baker in 1868, when Chilton County was formed. Clanton was named in honor of General James H. Clanton, a brigadier in the Confederate States Army, and was incorporated on April 23, 1873. Baker was also elected first mayor of the town. Nearby Lay Lake Dam and Mitchell Dam became Alabama Power's first two dams in the state, bringing economic improvements to the area. Immigrants played a part in starting the county's peach industry more than a century ago. Today, the peach industry is the number one industry in Chilton County, not only bringing fame to the county, but also millions of dollars to the local economy. The city of Clanton constructed a water tower in the form of a peach in 1993, becoming a landmark for travelers along Interstate 65.
Clanton is located southeast of the center of Chilton County at 32°50'23.316" North, 86°37'41.477" West (32.839810, -86.628188). Clanton, Alabama, in Chilton county, is 37 miles NW of Montgomery, Alabama (center to center) and 144 miles SW of Atlanta, Georgia.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 22.1 square miles (57.2 km2), of which 21.9 square miles (56.8 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 0.62%, is water.
More Cities of Interest in Alabama