How to Choose a Truck Driving School near Red Bay Alabama
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Red Bay AL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Red Bay residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll obtain the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally in Alabama and within the United States, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school near Red Bay AL, we will address 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). Following are brief descriptions for the 2 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. A few 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 Commercial Drivers License 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 need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Red Bay AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are several additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Red Bay AL truck driver schools are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Red Bay AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual 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 train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Red Bay AL schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the Red Bay AL school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish plenty 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 operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators 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 be. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Red Bay AL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from certain Red Bay AL trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with numerous 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 freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the Red Bay AL schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Red Bay AL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending 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 commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession in Red Bay AL. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many employers hiring their grads, it may 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 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 must be completed in Red Bay AL.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Truck Driver?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's advantageous to consider questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask truck driving applicants is "What compelled you to decide on trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a trucker, but additionally what qualities and skills you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should ready several ideas about how you would like to answer them. Given that there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an excellent truck driver and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but jot down a few ideas and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
Pick the Right Truck Driving School Red Bay AL
Picking the right trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation 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 many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases 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 choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Red Bay AL.
A Bit About Red Bay Alabama
Red Bay, Alabama
Red Bay is located in western Franklin County at 34°26′24″N 88°8′18″W / 34.44000°N 88.13833°W / 34.44000; -88.13833 (34.439898, -88.138208). The western border of the city is the Mississippi state line. It is situated on the Tennessee Valley divide, with the northern half of the city draining north to Bear Creek, a tributary of the Tennessee River, and the southern half draining south to Gum Creek, a tributary of the Tombigbee River.
Alabama State Route 24 is a four-lane highway that passes south of the city center, leading east 25 miles (40 km) to Russellville and west 2 miles (3 km) to the Mississippi line. Tremont, Mississippi, is 18 miles (29 km) to the southwest.
As of the census of 1990 the racial makeup of the city was 95.06% White, 3.25% Black or African American, 0.25% Native American, 0.62% from other races, and 0.91% from two or more races. 0.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
As of the census of 2000, there were 3,374 people, 1,429 households, and 987 families residing in the city. The population density was 343.7 people per square mile (132.7/km²). There were 1,594 housing units at an average density of 162.4 per square mile (62.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.86% White, 1.45% Black or African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.62% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. 0.80% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
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