How to Choose a Truck Driver School near Winfield Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Winfield AL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Winfield home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations 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 discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Alabama and within the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school near Winfield AL, we will address Class A and 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 explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 needed to operate 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 require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Winfield AL trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Winfield AL trucking schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided 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 standard, and that they will receive 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Winfield AL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Alabama licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching 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 talk more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Winfield AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to visit the Winfield AL school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Winfield AL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some Winfield AL trucking schools if you make a commitment 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 rather than maintaining 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Alabama, ask if the Winfield AL schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Alabama testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Winfield AL school you choose offers 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 prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession in Winfield AL. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted in Winfield AL.
Why Did You Want to Be a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's a good idea to consider questions you may be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers frequently ask truck driving applicants is "What drove you to decide on trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a trucker, but also what qualities and skills you possess that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to prepare a number of ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the talents you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but jot down some ideas and topics that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to develop your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driver School Winfield AL
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. 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 short on cash or financing, you may need to think about 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 choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Winfield AL.
A Bit About Winfield Alabama
Winfield is a small city situated in Northwest Alabama 26 miles (42 km) east of the Mississippi state line. It lies in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range which stretches from the deep South all the way to Maine. Long before the earliest settlers arrived, Indian tribes hunted in the forest and fished in the streams and along and around Winfield. The town was originally called "Needmore", but when it was incorporated in either 1887 or 1891, the name was changed to Winfield in honor of General Winfield Scott. This area was once the Chickasaw Indian domain. Although there were no known Indian settlements within the county, several sites were maintained as hunting camps.
Winfield is located in southern Marion County at 33°55′42″N 87°48′29″W / 33.92833°N 87.80806°W / 33.92833; -87.80806 (33.928258, -87.807990), with a portion extending south into Fayette County. U.S. Route 43 passes through the city, leading northwest 6.5 miles (10.5 km) to Guin and south 18 miles (29 km) to Fayette. Hamilton, the Marion County seat, is 20 miles (32 km) northwest via US 43.
Winfield has a subtropical climate characterized by hot, humid summers, mild winters, and abundant rainfall during the late winter and spring. January sees average daily high temperatures of 53.0 °F (11.7 °C) and lows of 31.8 °F (−0.1 °C). In July, the average daily high is 90.6 °F (32.6 °C), and the low is 69.2 °F (20.7 °C). Snowfall is infrequent in the area, with a yearly average of 0.5 inches (12.7 mm). The average yearly rainfall in Winfield is about 52 inches (1,300 mm), with March being the wettest month and October the driest.
The spring and fall months are pleasant but variable, but cold fronts frequently bring strong to severe thunderstorms and occasional tornadoes to the region. The fall season features less rainfall and fewer storms, as well as lower humidity than the spring, but is also a secondary severe weather season.
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