How to Pick a Truck Driving School near Thomas West Virginia
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Thomas WV. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Thomas residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Thomas WV, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are short 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 greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Thomas WV trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Thomas WV area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, 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 several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? 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 normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Thomas WV schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the West Virginia licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in West Virginia and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Thomas WV schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although 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 crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out 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 satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots of 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, 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. Although driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Thomas WV schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific 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 numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work 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 only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Thomas WV 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 truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in West Virginia, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at West Virginia testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Thomas WV school you choose offers 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 willing 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 must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Thomas WV employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Thomas WV area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask 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 Thomas WV?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Thomas West Virginia area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Thomas, West Virginia
Thomas was platted in 1884. Thomas was named for Thomas Beall Davis (1828-1911), brother of Senator Henry Gassaway Davis. The Davis brothers, in 1883, opened a mine near Thomas and had coal ready to ship when their railway arrived a year later. By 1892, Davis Coal and Coke was among the largest and best known coal companies in the world and employed 1,600 people. At the peak of its operations in 1915, there were nine producing mines within a mile of the company's office in Thomas.
Immigrants flocked to the area as miners, railroad laborers, or merchants. The Company employed a man named Wladyslaw Dackiewicz as an interpreter. He could speak, read, and write eight languages and his services were much in demand with the influx of immigrants.
In 1901, in less than two hours, nearly half of Thomas (83 buildings) was destroyed by a fire. The city was quickly rebuilt with fine hotels and a new opera house. The Cottrill Opera House had a saloon on the first floor which was by far the most elegant of the eight bars located on Front Street. In 1909, Front Street (also known as First Street, Main Street, and East Avenue) was laid with brick to become the first paved street in the county.
Select the Ideal Truck Driver School Thomas WV
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. 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 truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm 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 joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Thomas WV.
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