How to Pick a Trucking School near Ozark Alabama
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Ozark AL. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Ozark home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to ensure you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss 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 CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the USA, an operator must get 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 subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Ozark AL, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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 brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 needed 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Ozark AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Ozark AL truck driver schools are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Ozark AL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Ozark 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 earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the Ozark AL school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Ozark AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of Ozark AL truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified 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 instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the Ozark AL schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Ozark AL school you select provides 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 dedicate 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession in Ozark AL. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement 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 employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are much like 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 assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted in Ozark AL.
Why Did You Want to Be a Tractor Trailer Operator?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's important to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the things that recruiters often ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to decide on trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a trucker, but also what qualities and talents you have that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to trucking, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must organize several approaches about how you would like to answer them. Given that there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the talents you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the leading choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down several concepts and anecdotes that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Pick the Ideal Trucking School Ozark AL
Picking the right truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation 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 many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Ozark AL.
A Bit About Ozark Alabama
Ozark is the principal city of the Ozark Micropolitan Statistical Area, as well as a part of the Dothan-Enterprise-Ozark Combined Statistical Area. Fort Rucker, the primary flight training base for Army Aviation, abuts Ozark.
The first known European settler in Ozark was John Merrick, Sr., a veteran of the Revolutionary War, in 1822. In honor of him, the town was named Merricks. It was later changed to Woodshop, which was its name when the town received its post office. The first appearance of the name Ozark was in 1855, when the citizens requested a name change.
As of the census of 2000, there were 15,119 people, 6,126 households, and 4,233 families residing in the city. The population density was 441.5 inhabitants per square mile (170.5/km2). There were 6,955 housing units at an average density of 203.1 per square mile (78.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 68.28% White, 28.30% Black or African American, 0.67% Native American, 0.70% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.46% from other races, and 1.53% from two or more races. 2.08% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 6,126 households out of which 31.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.8% were married couples living together, 16.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.9% were non-families. 27.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.92.
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