How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Cottondale Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Cottondale 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 research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Cottondale residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the United States, an operator must attain 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. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school near Cottondale AL, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 CDL is required to drive 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 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 need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Cottondale AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Cottondale AL truck driver schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving 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 Cottondale AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt 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 hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Cottondale AL schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to visit the Cottondale AL school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish plenty 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Cottondale AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from some Cottondale AL truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations 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 freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the Cottondale AL schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Cottondale AL school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession in Cottondale AL. Verify that the schools you are looking at 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 companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed in Cottondale AL.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Trucker?When preparing to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to consider questions you may be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask truck driving candidates is "What compelled you to select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a trucker, but additionally what attributes and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must prepare a number of ideas about how you would like to address them. Because there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional truck driver and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down a few ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
Select the Right CDL School Cottondale AL
Choosing the right truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets 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 crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to look into 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 firm 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 in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Cottondale AL.
A Bit About Cottondale Alabama
Richard Price Rummonds
Richard Price Rummonds (also known as Richard-Gabriel Price Rummonds), one of the foremost handpress printers of the late twentieth century, is also an author, publisher, typographer, and historian of printing. His two books on nineteenth-century printing, Printing on the Iron Handpress and Nineteenth-Century Printing Practices and the Iron Handpress, comprehensively describe the history, operation and merits of the iron handpress.
Born on April 26, 1931, in Long Beach, California, Rummonds was raised in Sacramento, California. He attended Syracuse University in 1949–1950, in the School of Fine Arts, with the intention of majoring in set and costume design and the University of California at Berkeley intermittently between 1950 and 1954, where he majored in English and Creative Writing. During this period he was on the staff of Occident, the student literary magazine, of which he became the editor for the Spring 1954 issue.
Rummonds began printing in Quito, Ecuador in 1966, using the Plain Wrapper Press imprint. His first book was a selection of his own poems. The following year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he printed a book of his short stories.
At a lecture in New York in November 1968, given by the Veronese printer Giovanni Mardersteig operator of the private press Officina Bodoni, Rummonds met Mardersteig’s son, Martino, who introduced Rummonds to the iron handpress. From 1969 on Rummonds printed all of his books on iron handpresses. The following year Rummonds moved his publishing venture and printing equipment to Verona, Italy, where he remained until 1982. Alessandro Zanella joined Rummonds at the Plain Wrapper Press in 1976, eventually becoming a partner in 1978.
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