How to Pick a Truck Driving School near Fulton Alabama
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Fulton AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables 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 Fulton residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to make sure you’ll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal 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 purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally in Alabama and within the USA, an operator needs to obtain 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 select a truck driver school near Fulton AL, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 needed 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. 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 require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
After you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Fulton AL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Fulton AL trucking schools are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For 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 satisfy the very high standards 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 stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Fulton AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Alabama licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized 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 professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Fulton AL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the Fulton AL school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient 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 real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Fulton AL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of Fulton AL trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the Fulton AL schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Fulton 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 particular 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 going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career in Fulton AL. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many 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 vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed in Fulton AL.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Tractor Trailer Operator?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask truck driving applicants is "What compelled you to select trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a truck driver, but also what characteristics and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, as well as a significant number of general interview questions, so you should organize some strategies about how you want to answer them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and topics that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
Select the Right CDL School Fulton AL
Selecting the right truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving 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 many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Fulton AL.
A Bit About Fulton Alabama
As of the census of 2000, there were 308 people, 122 households, and 87 families residing in the town. The population density was 123.6 people per square mile (47.8/km²). There were 139 housing units at an average density of 55.8 per square mile (21.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 82.14% White and 17.86% Black or African American.
There were 122 households out of which 38.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.0% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.9% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.07.
In the town, the population was spread out with 28.2% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 18.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 91.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.2 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $23,750, and the median income for a family was $33,500. Males had a median income of $29,107 versus $15,417 for females. The per capita income for the town was $12,602. About 11.8% of families and 17.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.9% of those under the age of eighteen and 16.7% of those sixty five or over.
More Cities of Interest in Alabama