How to Select a Trucking School near Scottsboro Alabama
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Scottsboro AL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Scottsboro home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best method to guarantee you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally in Alabama and within the USA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near Scottsboro AL, we will address Class A and Class 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). Following are brief descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 operate 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Scottsboro AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Scottsboro AL truck driving schools are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Scottsboro AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Scottsboro AL schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the Scottsboro AL school and talk to the teachers in person. 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good 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 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 replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Scottsboro 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 a number of Scottsboro AL truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly 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 get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the Scottsboro AL schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Scottsboro AL school you enroll in offers 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 commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession in Scottsboro AL. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed in Scottsboro AL.
Why Did You Want to Be a Truck Driver?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's a good idea to review questions you could be asked. One of the things that recruiters often ask truck driving candidates is "What drove you to choose trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not only the private reasons you might have for becoming a trucker, but also what qualities and talents you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you must prepare a number of ideas about how you want to answer them. Given that there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an excellent truck driver and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down some concepts and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
Choose the Ideal CDL School Scottsboro AL
Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge 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 get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Scottsboro AL.
A Bit About Scottsboro Alabama
Scottsboro is a city in Jackson County, Alabama, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 14,770. Named for its founder Robert Scott, the city is the county seat of Jackson County.
From its incorporation in 1870 until 1890, it was the largest community in Jackson County, losing the distinction from 1900 to 1920 to Bridgeport, but reclaiming the title in 1930 and holding it since that time.
It is located 30 miles each from the state boundaries of Georgia to the east (Dade County) and Tennessee to the north, about 45 miles from Huntsville, Alabama to the west and about 55 miles from Chattanooga, Tennessee to the northeast.
Prior to Scottsboro's founding, the area surrounding the present-day city was inhabited by the Cherokee Indians. While the Tennessee Valley did not have large Native American settlements at the time of the first white settlers, there was a Cherokee town named "Crow Town" near where Scottsboro is located today.
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