How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Woodland Park Colorado
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Woodland Park CO. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Woodland Park residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best method to ensure you’ll get the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest 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 Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Woodland Park CO, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one 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 focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 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 more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 might also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Woodland Park CO truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Woodland Park CO area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Woodland Park CO schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Colorado licensing department to confirm 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 Colorado and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no 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 regarding 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 time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Woodland Park CO schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few 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.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual 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 alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Woodland Park CO schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Woodland Park CO schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Colorado, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Colorado testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Woodland Park CO school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote 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 fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Woodland Park CO employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Woodland Park CO area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Woodland Park CO?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Woodland Park Colorado area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Woodland Park, Colorado
The City of Woodland Park is a Home Rule Municipality that is the most populous city in Teller County, Colorado, United States and is immediately west of El Paso County and the unincorporated community of Crystola. Many residents in this bedroom community, which is surrounded by the one-million acre (4,000 km²) Pike National Forest, make the 17-mile (27 km) commute to Colorado Springs. Ute Pass lies 12 miles (19 km) to the west of Woodland Park on US 24. The population was 7200 at the 2010 census. Nearby Douglas County is about a fifteen-minute drive from the city.
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,515 people, 2,476 households, and 1,884 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,151.0 people per square mile (444.4/km²). There were 2,642 housing units at an average density of 466.8 per square mile (180.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.89% White, 0.52% African American, 0.72% Native American, 0.87% Asian, 0.81% from other races, and 2.18% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.45% of the population.
There were 2,476 households out of which 39.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.3% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.9% were non-families. 19.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.03.
Pick the Right Truck Driving School Woodland Park CO
Picking the right trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Woodland Park CO.
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