How to Pick a Truck Driver School near Walford Iowa
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Walford IA. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Walford residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder 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 Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Walford IA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. Several 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 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Walford IA truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Walford IA area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Walford IA schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Iowa licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Iowa and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Walford IA schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish lots of 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Walford IA schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Walford IA schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Iowa, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Iowa testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Walford IA school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start 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 grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Walford IA employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Walford IA area vocational or trade 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 least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Walford IA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Walford Iowa area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,463 people, 479 households, and 414 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,318.0 inhabitants per square mile (508.9/km2). There were 492 housing units at an average density of 443.2 per square mile (171.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 98.6% White, 0.1% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.1% from other races, and 0.8% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.6% of the population.
There were 479 households of which 52.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 75.6% were married couples living together, 7.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 13.6% were non-families. 10.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 2.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.05 and the average family size was 3.29.
The median age in the city was 35.1 years. 33.4% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 30.4% were from 25 to 44; 25.3% were from 45 to 64; and 5.3% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 51.4% male and 48.6% female.
Choose the Best Trucking School Walford IA
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Walford IA.
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