How to Decide on a Truck Driver School near Andalusia Alabama
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Andalusia AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Andalusia home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on 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 commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the USA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near Andalusia AL, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries 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 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 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. A few 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, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Andalusia AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Andalusia AL truck driver schools are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Andalusia AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing authority to verify 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 instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Andalusia AL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the Andalusia AL school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish lots 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among 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 Andalusia AL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from some Andalusia AL truck driving 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 rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the Andalusia AL schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Andalusia AL school you choose provides 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 teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career in Andalusia AL. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are much like 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted in Andalusia AL.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the things that interviewers typically ask truck driving candidates is "What compelled you to choose trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not only the personal reasons you might have for being a trucking operator, but also what qualities and talents you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, along with a significant number of general interview questions, so you need to prepare a number of strategies about how you want to address them. Because there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you have that make you an excellent truck driver and the best choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
Choose the Right Truck Driver School Andalusia AL
Picking the right truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local 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 available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Andalusia AL.
A Bit About Andalusia Alabama
Andalusia was first settled in 1841 after flooding of the Conecuh River and the surrounding lowlands forced citizens to move to higher ground. The county seat was moved from Montezuma to Andalusia in 1844. The new town was originally called "New Site" but was known as Andalusia by the time a post office was established in 1846.
Andalusia, likely got its name from Spanish explorers or settlers since the land where the town is located was part of Spanish Florida until Pinckney's Treaty in 1795. Prior to this treaty, the Spanish Empire claimed all land up to 32.22 degrees north, which would include present day Andalusia which is at 31.31 degrees north. Andalusia shares the name of Andalusia, a large southern autonomous community of Spain.
Andalusia is located slightly northwest of the center of Covington County at 31°18′N 86°29′W / 31.300°N 86.483°W / 31.300; -86.483 (31.309, -86.479). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 19.8 square miles (51.3 km2), of which 19.7 square miles (50.9 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 0.79%, is water.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Andalusia has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.
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