How to Pick a Trucking School near Terra Alta West Virginia
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Terra Alta WV. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Terra Alta residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to make certain you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Terra Alta WV, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Terra Alta WV truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Terra Alta WV area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost 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 an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will comply with 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 operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Terra Alta WV schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the West Virginia licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in West Virginia and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction 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 train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Terra Alta WV schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will furnish sufficient 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among 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 Terra Alta WV schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally 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 get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Terra Alta WV schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in West Virginia, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at West Virginia testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Terra Alta WV school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Terra Alta WV employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Terra Alta WV area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Terra Alta WV?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Terra Alta West Virginia area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Terra Alta, West Virginia
The climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year-round. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Terra Alta has a marine west coast climate, abbreviated "Cfb" on climate maps.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,477 people, 610 households, and 394 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,241.2 inhabitants per square mile (479.2/km2). There were 700 housing units at an average density of 588.2 per square mile (227.1/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 98.0% White, 0.7% African American, 0.5% Native American, 0.1% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 0.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.9% of the population.
There were 610 households of which 33.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.1% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.4% were non-families. 28.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.92.
Choose the Ideal CDL School Terra Alta WV
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Terra Alta WV.
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