Trade and commerce rely heavily on transportation systems for successful operation. There are numerous transportation methods, but driving is the most commonly used one for interstate as well as intrastate deliveries, including in Alabama.
Commercial driving is a good career option with many benefits involved. However, to work in road transportation, the person must hold a Commercial Driving License (CDL). Alabama produces a substantial amount of construction materials, including Iron, wood, and plastic, etc. Hence, the demand for commercial drivers is high.
To feed this demand, there are many CDL schools within the state preparing vigilant drivers. This article takes a look at some of the best CDL trucking schools for aspiring commercial drivers.
CDL Requirements in Alabama
Alabama demands the applicants of CDL to satisfy a few requirements. These include age restrictions and a few certificate and document verifications.
At the time of the application, the applicant must be 18 years of age. 18-year-old license holders can only drive within the state of Alabama. For an interstate driving license, the applicant must be 21 years of age. Only applicants with at least 21 years of age are allowed to haul hazardous materials that require placarding and operate vehicles with more than one trailer.
Some documentation is also needed at the time of the license application. For in-state applicants, a driver’s license and social security card are needed, along with a medical certificate and proof of insurance. For hazardous chemical transport, a Transportation Security Administration background check is also required.
Out-state drivers who are transferring to Alabama need to show additional documents along with the ones previously discussed. These include a US Passport, Certificate of citizenship, and a certified US Birth certificate. Non-US citizens applying for the license must legally be in permanent status in the United States and domiciled in Alabama.
An application fee also needs to be submitted with the application. The amount varies with the class (A, B, C) of the driving license you are applying for.
A Commercial Learner's Permit (CLP) for a minimum of 14 days before applying for the CDL is also required from Alabama residents.
CDL Variations Available in Alabama
Alabama has three commercial license variations and one personal use license for operating big vehicles. All four classes are described below.
For driving any combination of vehicles exceeding the gross or total weight rating or the actual weight of 26,001 lbs., a Class A CDL is required.
Moreover, any combination of vehicles with a towed trailer weighing more than 10,000 lbs requires a class A CDL too. Drivers possessing class A CDL can also operate Class B, C, and D vehicles.
Single or any one vehicle with a total vehicle weight rating or weight of more than 26,001 lbs or a towing unit heavier than 10,000 lbs needs to be driven by an operator holding a class B CDL. Holders of Class B CDL can also operate class C and D vehicles but not class A vehicles.
Drivers operating a vehicle that does not fall under Class A or B but can transport 15 or more passengers at the same time need a class C CDL. For transporting hazardous select or toxic material as defined by 49 USC 5103 or 42 CFR Part 73, you will need a class C CDL. Holders of this license can also operate class D vehicles.
Class D vehicles are not operated for commercial purposes. A class D CDL allows the holder to operate recreational or personal vehicles for personal use.
Review of the Best CDL Trucking Schools in Alabama
Up till now, we have looked at the requirements for CDL in Alabama, along with the variations and different types. Let’s now take a look at the schools that provide training for these licenses so that responsible drivers emerge for timely and safe transport.
1. ESD School
- Locations: Decatur Campus:1403 Beltline Rd SW, Decatur, Alabama 35603
Mobile Campus: 5930 Rangeline Road, Theodore, Alabama 36582
- Website: https://esdschool.com/cdl-training
- Average Tuition Cost: $3,500
Certifications and Endorsements Offered By ESD School
ESD School offers three courses at the time: class A commercial driving training, class B commercial driving training, and refresher courses on CDL driving. All three courses are offered at both locations. Students can benefit from customized training and schedules for their ease.
At ESD School, the learners are valued and facilitated in every regard. Based on what you want to focus on during the CDL training, you can customize the contents of the training. The working hours of the school are from 7.00 AM to 5.00 PM, seven days a week. You can request a customized timetable too and take part-time training upon approval of the request.
Upon completion of training, the drivers can find placement at PAM Transports. ESD School has collaborated with the transport company to provide drivers who are fresh out of training. The company offers quite a lot of opportunities during the first year of placement.
All student graduates will start in over-the-road company driver positions at PAM Transport but based on the opportunities provided within the company, they can adopt different career paths, including driving Team HazMat or becoming a Driver Mentor or owner-operator to run their own business.
Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Truck Driver Institute
Training for class A and B CDL is provided by Truck Driver Institute and has been operating since 1973. The courses span for three weeks during which students acquire detailed knowledge and instructions on concepts like air brakes and combination vehicles, mechanics of the trucks, driving range experiences, highway driving, night driving, etc.
Students must complete classroom hours and supervised driving hours to be eligible for the CDL. Financial aid in the form of military benefits, carrier-paid tuition, and various scholarships to assist their students well are also available. The school also provides pre-hire CDL job screening as well as job placement during and after the training.
After the students graduate with their respective CDL licenses, they can be placed with one of the 20 carrier companies that TDI remains in close contact with. A team at TDI regularly interacts with the 20 companies to find prospects for emerging drivers. Their partners include US Xpress, Amazon, and FedEx, to name a few. With a 90% success rate, most graduates of TDI find jobs at renowned carrier and transportation companies based on their skills.
- Locations: 12962 Cottonwood HWY, cottonwood AL, 36320
- Average Tuition Cost: $3,500
Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Southern States Truck Driving School
Providing Class A CDL training and a refresher course, Southern States Truck Driving School is another specialty school in Alabama. The refresher course is 40 hours long and provides a quick overview of various aspects of driving big vehicles. To accommodate learners, Southern States Truck Driving School has a flexible schedule with weekend classes. Also, they provide fee discounts, in-house financing, and payment options.
Nine courses are being offered by the school currently; however, their CDL and CDL A certifications are the most popularly joined by attending students. The school offers on-campus and online classes. The duration of the courses varies from one to three months. The study costs range from $3,500 to $5,000, with the overall average tuition fee totaling $3,500.
The school is known to have good teachers who teach well, preparing students for the career ahead. Hands-on training is provided to best equip the students with the skills required for the job. There are financial aids and scholarships available for students as well.
Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Premier Driving Academy
A four-week training course for class CDL at the Premier Driving Academy prepares the students for their license via classroom interactions and practice driving in their six-acre range. Enrolled students need to attend the school from Monday to Thursday, from 7 AM to 6 PM, for four weeks to complete the 160-hour training required for CDL certifications.
Classroom instructors use DVDs, oral instructions, and practice tests to ensure that the students are clear about everything. The school trains trainees for all seven endorsements, equipping them sufficiently to compete in the job market. These endorsements include:
- General knowledge
- Air brakes
- Combination vehicle
- Bus passenger
For driving practice, the school provides a well-equipped range spawning over an area of six acres. In the range, there are three alley docks and three straight backs used for training. In the second, third, and fourth weeks, the students master wheel training and pre-trip safety inspection, shifting techniques, backing, and proper 18-wheeler operation in urban, rural, industrial, and interstate driving conditions.
Once the training is complete, a state examiner tests the graduates on the site on the last day of the course. Those who do not pass the test on the first try are facilitated by the school to reschedule another test.
One of the best things about the course is that it focuses on each trainee's career orientation and connects them with leading carrier companies throughout the course. TMC, McElroy, Stevens Transport, Werner Enterprises, and Schneider are a few of the companies that students get to talk to stay well-informed regarding the needs of these companies.
- Locations: 101 State Street
Sumiton, Alabama 35148
- Website: https://www.bscc.edu/
- Average Tuition Cost: $1,700
- Average Class Size:
- Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Bevill State Community College
Although there is only one short course on truck driving training at Bevill State Community College, it is considered to be one of the most comprehensive courses in the states. Students are trained in three classes, one after the other, for a total of 15 credit hours. The course is quick and well-explanatory.
Starting from the basic vehicle operations, students are taught safe operation practices as well as non-vehicular activities. In the end, they can demonstrate what they have learned and achieve a driving license.
Students must be at least 21 years of age at the time of application and must hold a driver’s license. They should also have no such record of violations which may prevent them from being employed as a truck driver.
The three classes provide detailed explanations and practice to enrolled students. In the first class, Basic Vehicle Operation, they are introduced to control systems, vehicle inspection, backing and shifting, coupling and uncoupling, proficiency development, and special rigs. By the end, the students can perform these tasks efficiently and carry out pre-trip inspections on commercial standard vehicles.
The second class is about Safe Operating Practices. In this class, trainees are provided proper driving techniques, including night driving, extreme conditions driving, speed and space management, etc. This class ensures that students can drive under all circumstances.
The third class is not related to driving instructions; rather, it helps students get command of non-vehicle operations, such as hauling, cargo handling, accident procedures, personal health and safety, trip planning, employability skills, public and employer relations, etc. This class trains them to ensure the safety of the driver, other motorists, vehicle, and cargo. It also helps them sharpen their interpersonal skills to maintain good professional relationships.
Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Affordable Truck Driver Training
With 30 years of experience in the trucking industry, Affordable Truck Driver Training provides classroom and hands-on training to enrolled students. Professionals from the field take students through the 160-hour-long course that is available full-time as well as part-time to meet everyone’s needs.
They have curated one of the finest truck driving curriculums in Alabama, where the instructors practically demonstrate everything before asking the students to practice. A single CDL training course is offered by the school that prepares the trainees to pass the CDL license exam.
The 160-hour-long course is divided into classroom training and road training. In the classroom, the students grasp the idea and gain command over various sections of the CDL manual. They learn about basic road safety rules, trucking regulations, basic operating knowledge, and fundamental troubleshooting tips. In case the students have applied for any additional endorsements, the school also guides them through these endorsements to ensure success.
After getting the CDL permit upon passing the written exam, the students get behind the wheel to work on their truck driving skills. They first test their skills on their driving range and then on local highways. Throughout the driving, instructors accompany students to help them through any issues they may encounter. The hands-on training will help tackle tough driving conditions and manage road safety.
- Locations: 2216 Decatur, AL
- Website: https://calhoun.edu/workforce-solutions/cdl-logistics-training/online-commercial-truck-driving/
- Average Tuition Cost: $2,500
- Licensing Credentials and Accreditations: Southern Association of Colleges, Schools Commission on Colleges
Certifications and Endorsements Offered By Calhoun Community College
Calhoun Community College offers one online course for commercial driving training. The course is six months long and divided into two semesters. It imparts knowledge and instructions regarding road CDL written tests and puts quite a lot of focus on soft skills that increase the employability chance of drivers.
To enroll, there are no prerequisites required by the college. The main objective of the course is to prepare students for the commercial driver’s license exam. The students are required to complete 120 credit hours. The course is self-paced but needs to be completed within six months.
There are four levels of this course that need to be completed within six months, starting from the day of enrollment. Students will need a PC to attend lectures and take self-preparedness exams at the end of each level.
The main learning focus is on driving safety, cargo and passenger transportation, combination and tan vehicles, and hazardous material. Along with that, special focus is given on stress training to make sure that graduates know how to deal with the stress encountered on long routes.
Soft skills like communication, self-confidence, anger management, and motivation are also worked upon. Once you complete the course, you can sit for the commercial driver’s license exam. Upon passing this, you can work with heavy vehicles for practice before you get your CDL license.
Why Start a Trucking Career in Alabama?
Alabama is a good place for those who want to start a trucking career. The high demand and good salary and benefits make it favorable for truck drivers to start or continue their trucking careers in Alabama. Let’s take a look at the reasons that make Alabama a great place for truck driving careers.
It is estimated that between 2012 and 2022, the demand for truck and trailer drivers will increase by 12%. The expected rise is quite high and is complemented by the many materials that the state of Alabama produces.
Building material, livestock, and automobile parts are some of the products transported from Alabama. These products are not only transported intrastate, but a major portion is also delivered throughout the Southern region. Hence, there’s a need for CDL holding drivers both for short and long-distance carrier services.
Good Hiring Rates for Fresh Graduates
Most Alabama trucking companies hire fresh graduates of CDL training without any problem. Once drivers acquire their CDL license, they can easily find jobs even without much experience. In this regard, training schools provide a lot of help too. Most schools partner with carrier companies in the state and help link graduates with hiring companies.
Out-of-State Drivers are Welcome Too
The state of Alabama provides opportunities to out-of-state drivers who have transferred to Alabama as well as to immigrant drivers. All drivers need to do is submit a few documents and acquire a CDL issued by the state, and they are good to start or continue their career without any restrictions.
Truck Driving Salary and Job Outlook in Alabama
One of the major reasons Alabama is an attractive place for truck driving is the higher-than-US-average pay rate for drivers and the added benefits offered by different companies. Like all other professions, the salaries for truck drivers also vary depending upon the experience level. The annual wage for truck driving jobs is roughly $56,725 in Alabama.
Truck drivers who are fresh out of training or have newly acquired their CDL license are considered to be entry-level drivers. They have less than a year of experience and are usually given intra-state transportation jobs with smaller trucks. The average salary for them is $50,000 annually.
Those who have been in the trucking business for three to five years can find numerous opportunities in Alabama. Drivers are hired to usually deliver heavy cargo on combination vehicles to far off areas within the state. They earn around $54,568 annually.
Drivers who have been driving trucks for almost ten years are considered master-level drivers. They are entrusted with long route transport and the transport of hazardous material within and out of state. Most companies hire them for delivery to far off areas and states. On average, they make around $64,051 per year.
Benefits like fuel discount, employee stock ownership, paid time off, 401(k), and referral programs are available for drivers by employer companies.
The demand for CDL truck drivers has been on the rise in Alabama since 2002. A strong transportation system supports the wide chain of exports in Alabama. There are plenty of schools within the state that produces top-quality vigilant CDL holders for intra and inter-state goods transfer. For those who want a career in trucking, Alabama is a good place for not only training but also in terms of job prospects.
People Also Ask
We realize that getting a CDL is a big step ahead in your career. That is why we want you to be as knowledgeable as possible regarding various schools, their programs, and other aspects. For this reason, this section addresses some of the most asked queries related to truck driving schools in Alabama.
Do Trucking Companies in Alabama Pay You to Get Your CDL?
The policy of paying for a CDL differs from company to company in Alabama. Some of these companies have adopted this policy and have provided financial aid to existing and new drivers. Drivers, upon acquiring the license, serve the same company for the agreed time. However, not all companies follow this policy.
Can You Get Financial Aid for Trucking School in Alabama?
Yes, there are plenty of schools that provide financial aid to their students. This is usually in the form of scholarships that are approved after an eligibility check by the school. Aid is available both for part-time and full-time training as well as for various courses. However, you may have to work on the terms of the school for their partner carrier company for some time.
How Much Does a CDL License Cost in Alabama?
The cost of CDL in Alabama is different for every class of license. A fee of $66.25 is charged to purchase a class A license, while class B CDL purchase costs $56.25. $36.25 is charged for the purchase of a class C license, while only $36.25 is charged for a commercial learner license.
How Old Do You Have to Be to Get a Class a CDL License in Alabama?
Applicants for CDL in Alabama must be at least 18 years of age for in-state driving. For inter-state truck driving jobs or for the transport of hazardous material, the applicant must be 21 years old. 18-year-old CDL holders cannot drive interstate or carry hazardous material, even within the state or the city.
What Happens if I Fail the Written CDL Permit Test Alabama?
If you fail the written CDL permit test in Alabama, you will not receive your learner’s permit that is required by training schools for you to practice with heavy vehicles. However, you can retake the test at your convenience. You may schedule a date as soon as the next business day.