How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Westminster Texas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Westminster TX. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Westminster residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll receive the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick 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 talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Westminster TX, a driver must get 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 subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight 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). Below are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Westminster TX trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Westminster TX area are accredited because of the stringent 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking 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 best of Westminster TX schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Texas licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Texas and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Westminster TX schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important 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 check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide 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 operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Westminster TX schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Westminster TX schools you are contemplating 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 permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Texas, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Texas testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Westminster TX school you select offers 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 teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Westminster TX employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Westminster TX area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid 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 Westminster TX?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Westminster Texas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Westminster is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in northeastern Collin County, Texas, United States. The population was 861 as of the 2010 census, up from 390 at the 2000 census, at which time it was a city.
The city was first settled in 1860, and named "Seven Points". It grew quickly, and by 1885 had absorbed the neighbouring communities of Prospect and Graybill. In 1888, a private school was established; the building was later sold to the Methodist Church, establishing Westminster College. The college, a preparatory school for prospective ministers, was named after Westminster, Maryland, a Methodist stronghold in an otherwise predominantly Catholic state.
Within a year, the residents of Seven Points decided to change the name of their community to Westminster. The town received a post office branch in 1899, and Westminster was incorporated after a vote of 38 to 19 against, on June 17, 1916. Around the same time, the Greenville and Whitewright Northern Traction Company built a railway line from Anna to Blue Ridge that passed through Westminster.
Select the Best Truck Driving School Westminster TX
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to look into 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 select an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Westminster TX.
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