How to Find a CDL Driving School near Selma Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Selma AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Selma home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll obtain the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal 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 purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally in Alabama and within the USA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person 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 Selma AL, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type 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 descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Selma AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Selma AL trucking schools are accredited because of the stringent process and cost 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Selma AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Alabama licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Selma AL schools offer training courses that run 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 already stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the Selma AL school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish ample 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 tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Selma AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some Selma AL truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide 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 less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, ask if the Selma AL schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Selma AL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession in Selma AL. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are much like 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted in Selma AL.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Truck Driver?When preparing to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to review questions you might be asked. One of the things that hiring managers often ask truck driving applicants is "What compelled you to pick trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a trucking operator, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you outstanding at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, along with a significant number of typical interview questions, so you should organize a number of strategies about how you would like to answer them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an excellent truck driver and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down some ideas and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Pick the Right Trucking School Selma AL
Selecting the right trucking school is a critical 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 a number of options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced 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 firm 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 part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Selma AL.
A Bit About Selma Alabama
Selma is a city in and the county seat of Dallas County, in the Black Belt region of south central Alabama and extending to the west. Located on the banks of the Alabama River, the city has a population of 20,756 as of the 2010 census.
The city is best known for the 1960s Selma Voting Rights Movement and the Selma to Montgomery marches, beginning with "Bloody Sunday" in March 1965 and ending with 25,000 people entering Montgomery at the end of the last march to press for voting rights. This activism generated national attention to social justice and that summer, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed by Congress to authorize federal oversight and enforcement of constitutional rights of all citizens.
It had been a trading center and market town during the years of King Cotton in the South. It was also an important armaments manufacturing and iron shipbuilding center during the Civil War, surrounded by miles of earthen fortifications. The Confederate forces were defeated during the Battle of Selma.
Before settlement by European peoples, the area of present-day Selma had been inhabited for thousands of years by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. The Europeans encountered the historic Native American people known as the Muscogee (also known as the Creek), who had been in the area for hundreds of years.
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