How to Find a CDL Driving School near Cottonwood Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Cottonwood AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several 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 Cottonwood residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll obtain the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest 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 drive commercial vehicles legally in Alabama and within the United States, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses 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 Cottonwood AL, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses 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 authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Cottonwood AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Cottonwood AL trucking schools are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, 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 certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Cottonwood AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal instruction 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 be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Cottonwood AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the Cottonwood AL school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through 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 furnish sufficient 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 methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Cottonwood AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain Cottonwood AL truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different 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 surrendering 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 only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the Cottonwood AL schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Cottonwood AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote 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 obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession in Cottonwood AL. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance 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 must be submitted in Cottonwood AL.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's a good idea to review questions you may be asked. Among the questions that recruiters often ask truck driving applicants is "What compelled you to choose trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the private reasons you might have for being a trucker, but also what characteristics and abilities you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to trucking, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you should ready several strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an excellent truck driver and the best candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down some concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Pick the Ideal Truck Driver School Cottonwood AL
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving 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 several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Cottonwood AL.
A Bit About Cottonwood Alabama
Cottonwood is a town in Houston County, Alabama, United States. One source said the town incorporated in 1901, although the 1910 U.S. Census stated 1903. It is part of the Dothan, Alabama Metropolitan Statistical Area. At the 2010 census the population was 1,289, up from 1,170 in 2000.
Cottonwood is located in southern Houston County at 31°3′13″N 85°18′9″W / 31.05361°N 85.30250°W / 31.05361; -85.30250 (31.053646, -85.302409).Alabama State Route 53 passes through the center of town, leading north 14 miles (23 km) to Dothan and southeast 7 miles (11 km) to the Florida state line. Malone, Florida, is 11 miles (18 km) southeast of Cottonwood.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 5.8 square miles (15.0 km2), of which 0.03 square miles (0.07 km2), or 0.45%, are water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,170 people, 485 households, and 323 families residing in the town. The population density was 212.9 people per square mile (82.1/km2). There were 548 housing units at an average density of 99.7 per square mile (38.5/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 69.06% White, 29.06% Black or African American, 0.68% Native American, and 1.20% from two or more races. 1.97% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
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