How to Decide on a CDL Training School near Guntersville Alabama
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Guntersville AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Guntersville residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To operate 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 one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Guntersville AL, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate 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 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Guntersville AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are a few more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Guntersville AL truck driver schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Guntersville AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, 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 considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Guntersville AL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the Guntersville AL school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Guntersville AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain Guntersville AL truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the Guntersville AL schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Guntersville AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty 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 employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career in Guntersville AL. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement 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 referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar 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 aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted in Guntersville AL.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Truck Driver?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the things that recruiters typically ask truck driving prospects is "What drove you to select trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a trucker, but also what attributes and abilities you have that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should prepare a number of strategies about how you would like to answer them. Since there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the talents you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the leading candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down several concepts and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Select the Best Truck Driver School Guntersville AL
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape 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. Most importantly, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to consider 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 select an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Guntersville AL.
A Bit About Guntersville Alabama
Guntersville (previously known as Gunter's Ferry and later Gunter's Landing) is a city in Marshall County, Alabama, United States. At the 2010 census, the population of the city was 8,197. The city is the county seat of Marshall County. Guntersville is located in a HUBZone as identified by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 42.4 square miles (109.9 km2), of which 25.4 square miles (65.8 km2) is land and 17.0 square miles (44.1 km2), or 40.14%, is water.
Guntersville is located at the southernmost point of the Tennessee River on Lake Guntersville, formed by the Guntersville Dam (built by the Tennessee Valley Authority). Geologically, the lake occupies a southern extension of Sequatchie Valley, which continues south as Browns Valley.
Guntersville was founded by John Gunter (1765–1835), the great-grandfather of American humorist Will Rogers. John's own great-great-grandfather, of Welsh-English descent, had emigrated to the New World in 1644. John Gunter was the wealthy owner of a salt mine in the early 19th century. In order to obtain more land to mine, John struck a deal with the Cherokee tribe that inhabited the area to use in his household as servants. As part of the deal, John married the daughter (Ghe-No-He-Li, aka Katy and Cathrine) of the tribe's chief (Chief Bushyhead of the Paint Clan) and agreed to give salt to the tribe. A town sprung up next to the mine and was named after Gunter. The town of Guntersville puts on a festival every July to celebrate Will Rogers, this festival involves many activities of interest to Will Rogers.
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