How to Decide on a Truck Driving School near Wickliffe Ohio
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Wickliffe OH. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Wickliffe residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll receive the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That 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?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Wickliffe OH, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 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 may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Wickliffe OH truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Wickliffe OH area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided 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 quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards 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 reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Wickliffe OH schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Ohio licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Ohio and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention 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 teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Wickliffe OH schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Wickliffe OH schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Wickliffe OH schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Ohio, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Ohio testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Wickliffe OH school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit 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 Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Wickliffe OH employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Wickliffe OH area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out 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 completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Wickliffe OH?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Wickliffe Ohio area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.66 square miles (12.07 km2), of which 4.64 square miles (12.02 km2) is land and 0.02 square miles (0.05 km2) is water.
It is landlocked due to the neighboring cities of Euclid and Willowick (to which it partially lent its name); it also borders Willoughby. Eastlake and Richmond Heights are not quite adjacent to it, but are close.
As of the census of 2010, there were 12,750 people, 5,455 households, and 3,426 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,747.8 inhabitants per square mile (1,060.9/km2). There were 5,780 housing units at an average density of 1,245.7 per square mile (481.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 92.8% White, 4.5% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 1.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.2% of the population.
Choose the Right Truck Driving School Wickliffe OH
Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Wickliffe OH.
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