How to Find a CDL Training School near Tuscumbia Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Tuscumbia AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Tuscumbia home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll get the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the United States, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school near Tuscumbia AL, we will focus on Class A and Class 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 short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Tuscumbia AL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Tuscumbia AL trucking schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, 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. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Tuscumbia AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal 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 professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Tuscumbia AL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify 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 developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the Tuscumbia AL school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Tuscumbia AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from certain Tuscumbia AL truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, ask if the Tuscumbia AL schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Tuscumbia AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty 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 working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new profession in Tuscumbia AL. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted in Tuscumbia AL.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Truck Driver?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking job, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask truck driving candidates is "What made you choose trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the private reasons you might have for being a truck driver, but also what attributes and talents you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you should ready several strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you possess that make you an excellent truck driver and the leading candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but take down several concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Tuscumbia AL
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation 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 many options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated 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 Tuscumbia AL.
A Bit About Tuscumbia Alabama
Tuscumbia was the hometown of Helen Keller (Ivy Green) and much of the city is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Tuscumbia Historic District. The city serves as the location for the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Tuscumbia had its beginnings when the Michael Dixon family arrived about 1816. They traded with Chief Tucumseh for the Tuscumbia Valley and built their home at the head of the big spring. From these humble dwellings quickly developed a village known as the Big Spring Community. The men of the community requested that the state legislature incorporate them as a city. The town was incorporated in 1820 as Ococoposa and is one of Alabama's oldest towns. In 1821, its name was changed to Big Spring and on December 22, 1822, to Tuscumbia, after the Chief Rainmaker of the Chickasaws.
Although shoals on the nearby Tennessee River made the river nearly impassable, a federal highway completed in 1820 provided the area with good access to markets. Tuscumbia soon became the center for agriculture in northern Alabama. A line to the town on the Tuscumbia, Courtland and Decatur Railroad was completed in 1832, and by 1850 Tuscumbia was a major railroad hub for train traffic throughout the South.
Tuscumbia is located northeast of the center of Colbert County at 34°43′51″N 87°42′10″W / 34.73083°N 87.70278°W / 34.73083; -87.70278 (34.730839, -87.702854). It is bordered to the north by the city of Sheffield and to the northeast by the city of Muscle Shoals. The Tennessee River is 1 mile (1.6 km) to the northwest.
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