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Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Union Pier MI

How to Decide on a Truck Driving School near Union Pier Michigan

Union Pier MI truck driving school campusCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Union Pier MI. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted 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 essential to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Union Pier residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to make certain you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder 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?

long haul tractor trailer in Union Pier MITo operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Union Pier MI, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver 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 discuss 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 explanations for the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 CDL is required to drive 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. 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 need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.

How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School

Questions to ask Union Pier MI truck driving schoolsOnce you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Union Pier MI trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Union Pier MI area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly 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 best of Union Pier MI schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. 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 provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Michigan licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.

How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Michigan and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction 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 professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Union Pier MI schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few 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.

Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Union Pier MI schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver 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 remember to find out if the Union Pier MI schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Michigan, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Michigan testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Union Pier 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 particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Union Pier MI employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Union Pier MI area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Union Pier MI?

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

Union Pier, Michigan

Union Pier is an unincorporated community in Berrien County in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is situated between the Lake Michigan shore and the Galien River about five miles north of the Indiana state border.

During the summer of 1914 a colony of Chicago bohemians, including the writers Sherwood Anderson and Ben Hecht, vacationed at the "Camp's Cottages" (for the owner Eli Camp) on the Union Pier beach. The local residents were outraged by what they believed were the wild goings-on at "The Nudist Club," as they characterized it, particularly after two local men left their wives for women staying at Camp's. The locals made the situation sufficiently uncomfortable for the vacationers that they did not return the next year.[1]

After the end of World War II, many Lithuanian immigrants began settling in Union Pier. Although few Lithuanian-Americans remain today, several Lithuanian facilities remain, such as Milda's Corner Market and Gintaras Resort.

Choose the Right CDL School Union Pier MI

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Union Pier MIPicking the appropriate truck driver school is a critical 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 mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Union Pier MI.

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