Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Natural Bridge AL

How to Decide on a Truck Driving School near Natural Bridge Alabama

Natural Bridge AL truck driving school campusCongratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Natural Bridge AL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Natural Bridge residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal 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 objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.

Which CDL Will You Require?

long haul tractor trailer in Natural Bridge ALIn order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Natural Bridge AL, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations of the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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. 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.

How to Research a Trucking School

Questions to ask Natural Bridge AL truck driving schoolsAfter you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Natural Bridge AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are several additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Natural Bridge AL area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required 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 plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Natural Bridge AL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.

How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, 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 section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Natural Bridge AL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.

How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no replacement 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 can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Natural Bridge AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Natural Bridge AL schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Natural Bridge AL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend 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 accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.

Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Natural Bridge AL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Natural Bridge AL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Natural Bridge AL?

If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Natural Bridge Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.

Natural Bridge, Alabama

Natural Bridge is a town at the southwest edge of Winston County, Alabama, United States, located near the intersection of U.S. Highway 278, Alabama Highway 13, and Alabama State Route 5.[3] It initially incorporated on September 3, 1914. In the 1930s, due to a dwindling population, its charter became dormant. On July 24, 1997 it reincorporated.[4]

The population was 37 at the 2010 census, up from 28 in 2000. After its reincorporation, in 2000 it was the least populated town in Alabama that was incorporated, although Gantts Quarry had a population of zero but was still legally incorporated. In 2010, it lost the title to McMullen and became the 4th least populated incorporated town in the state.

The town is notable for the nearby rock arch, also named Natural Bridge, the longest natural bridge east of the Rockies, spanning over 127 ft (40 m).[5] The arch is in Natural Bridge Park, which allows public access.[6]

Choose the Ideal Truck Driving School Natural Bridge AL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Natural Bridge ALSelecting the right truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, 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 Natural Bridge AL.

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