How to Pick a CDL Training School near Zionsville Pennsylvania
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Zionsville PA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Zionsville home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to make sure you’ll receive the right education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified 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 address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Zionsville PA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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 needed to operate 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 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 may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Zionsville PA truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Zionsville PA 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots 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 course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Zionsville PA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Pennsylvania licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Pennsylvania and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual 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 professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Zionsville PA schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, 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 criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide plenty 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Zionsville PA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Zionsville PA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Pennsylvania, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Pennsylvania testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Zionsville PA school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Zionsville PA employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Zionsville PA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Zionsville PA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Zionsville Pennsylvania area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 17.9 square miles (46.4 km2), all of it land. A large portion of the township is located in the South Mountains, and elevations in the township range from approximately 400 to 1,000 feet above sea level. Upper Milford is in the Delaware watershed and is drained by the Little Lehigh Creek and Saucon Creek into the Lehigh River and by the Perkiomen Creek into the Schuylkill River.
While there are no large towns in the township, its most prominent villages are Old Zionsville, Powder Valley, Shimerville, Vera Cruz, and Zionsville (also in Lower Milford Township.) Dillinger is a small village in eastern Upper Milford and Corning (also in Lower Milford Township) and Sigmund (home to Victory Valley Bible Camp) are small villages in southwestern Upper Milford.
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,889 people, 2,514 households, and 2,021 families residing in the township. The population density was 384.7 people per square mile (148.5/km2). There were 2,576 housing units at an average density of 143.9/sq mi (55.5/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 98.30% White, 0.16% African American, 0.09% Native American, 0.68% Asian, 0.20% from other races, and 0.57% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.02% of the population.
Choose the Right CDL School Zionsville PA
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold 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 necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL 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 soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Zionsville PA.
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