How to Select a CDL Driving School near Tenino Washington
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Tenino WA. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Tenino home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Tenino WA, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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. Several 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 might also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Tenino WA trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Tenino WA area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving 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 top Tenino WA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Washington licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Washington and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Tenino WA schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although 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 keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish lots 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Tenino WA schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from certain trucking 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 offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Tenino WA schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Washington, 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 Washington testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Tenino WA school you select offers 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 teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Tenino WA employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Tenino WA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid 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 Tenino WA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Tenino Washington area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Tenino was officially incorporated on July 24, 1906, though it existed as a rural community since the mid-19th century. Initially, American settlers were attracted to the open prairies created and maintained by local natives through controlled burns to cultivate camas root, a staple food source. Records indicate the initial settlers' community centered on the prairie approximately 1/2 mile south of the present town. Early residents named their first post office and school "Coal Bank", in the 1860s, a reference to a nearby coal outcropping. When the Northern Pacific Railway arrived in 1872 they adopted Tenino as the name of the new station. It also appears informally as "T-9-O," a shortened variation in use as early as 1873.
In the late 19th century a number of sandstone quarrying companies began shipping building stone, used in many regional buildings outside of Tenino, including the Old Capitol Building and the old Thurston County Courthouse in Olympia, the Mason County Courthouse in Shelton, Washington, the First Congregational Church, developed by Cameron Stone, in Tacoma, Washington, Denny Hall and the Theodore Jacobson Observatory at the University of Washington, Seattle, the Pittock Mansion and the Pioneer Courthouse in Portland, Oregon, the Calvary Presbyterian Church (San Francisco) and several US post office buildings, including at The Dalles, Oregon. The US Government also used stone from these quarries to construct jetties at Westport, Washington and elsewhere. The quarries declined in the early 20th century when many builders switched to concrete.
In addition to quarrying, logging, saw mills, and coal mining were also well established industries in the area. However, as the timber played out and railroads switched to diesel in the mid-20th century, these industries also declined.
Pick the Ideal Trucking School Tenino WA
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. 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 cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving 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 no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Tenino WA.
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