How to Find a CDL Training School near Union City Michigan
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Union City MI. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Union City home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll receive the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Union City MI, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight 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). Below are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. A few 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 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. Some 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 might also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Union City MI trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Union City MI area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Union City MI schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Michigan licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Michigan and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes 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 skillfully requires time. The majority of Union City MI schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary 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 be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Union City MI schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement 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 relationships with numerous 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 work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Union City MI schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide 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 allowed in Michigan, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Michigan testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Union City MI school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Union City MI employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Union City MI area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Union City MI?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Union City Michigan area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Union City, Michigan
Union City is a village in Branch and Calhoun counties in the U.S. state of Michigan. Located mostly within Union Township in Branch County, it sits at the junction of the Coldwater and St. Joseph rivers; the Calhoun County portion lies within that county's Burlington Township. It is part of the Battle Creek, Michigan Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,599 at the 2010 census.
Union City is located on the northern border of Branch County, about ten miles (16 km) northwest of Coldwater. This is a small picturesque and historic town that functions primarily as an adjunct community to the greater Coldwater and Battle Creek areas. It has a striking turn-of-the-century look architecturally, with well–preserved downtown buildings and several Victorian style homes. A Civil War monument can be seen on the north end of the main street area in the churchyard, while a veteran's memorial along the riverbank to the south end commemorates those who fought in more recent wars.
Union City was first settled by Justin Goodwin in 1833, when he built a mill here and became the first postmaster, calling it "Goodwinville". A year later, he sold several hundred acres to E. W. Morgan, who officially platted the site, renaming it from the "union" of the Coldwater and St. Joseph Rivers, which join there. A consortium of four proprietors bought the site in 1837. It was eventually incorporated as a village in 1866.
Select the Right CDL School Union City MI
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape 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. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Union City MI.
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