How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Elba Alabama
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Elba AL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Elba home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the United States, an operator 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 subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near Elba AL, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are short descriptions for the 2 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. Several 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 needed 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. 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 may also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
When you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Elba AL trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Elba AL truck driving schools are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. For 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Elba AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering 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 instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Elba AL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the Elba AL school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Elba AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from certain Elba AL trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, find out if the Elba AL schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide 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 indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Elba AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession in Elba AL. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed in Elba AL.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Tractor Trailer Operator?When preparing to interview for a Trucking position, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask truck driving prospects is "What made you choose trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not only the private reasons you might have for becoming a trucking operator, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you must ready several strategies about how you would like to address them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an excellent truck driver and the best choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down some ideas and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Choose the Best Truck Driving School Elba AL
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession 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 a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases 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 company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Elba AL.
A Bit About Elba Alabama
Elba is a city in Coffee County, Alabama, United States. At the time of the 2010 U.S. census, its population was 3,940. Elba is part of the Enterprise micropolitan statistical area. Elba is the official county seat of Coffee County, though there are two county courthouses, with the other one being located in the town of Enterprise.
The town which eventually became Elba originated near a ferry across the Pea River in the early 1830s. Originally called Bridgeville, a U.S. post office was established in the town by 1841. In 1851, a lottery to determine a new name for the town was held. One citizen had been reading a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, and his suggestion of "Elba" as its name was the winner when it was drawn from a hat before any of the other suggestions. Elba became the county seat of Coffee County in 1852.
A logging railroad first reached Elba on March 20, 1892, with the first permanent rail line arriving in October 1898. The "Dorsey Trailer Company" was constructed at the end of this railroad line, and this company manufactured the highway trailers that served on railroads and highways starting with the piggyback railroad or containerized cargo boom of the second half of the 20th century. The new railroad line ended in West Elba, where the "New Town" industrial section of the town was located. The Seaboard System Railroad ceased all railroad service to Elba, including freight service, on November 27, 1984.
The Pea River is an essential component of the history of Elba. The river was originally called the Talakatchee River by the Creek Indians. (In the Creek language, talak means "pea", and hatchee means "small river".) The Pea River frequently flooded, causing great damage to the town. The Lincoln flood of 1865, named for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in the same year, was the first to destroy the town. Another devastating flood occurred in 1929 when the river crested at a depth of 43.5 feet (13.3 m) early on March 15. Airplanes were used to drop supplies to the completely inundated town. There was only one death from the flood, an African-American man named "Phoe" Larkins. A child born at the Elba Hotel during this flood was named "Noah Tucker" after the biblical character Noah. Vivian Harper received the Theodore N. Vail Silver Medal for her heroic actions during the flood.
More Cities of Interest in Alabama