How to Select a Trucking School in Wyoming
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school in Wyoming. 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 discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal means to make certain you’ll receive the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest 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 Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Wyoming and within the USA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. Several 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 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. 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Wyoming truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Wyoming truck driving schools are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving 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. On the other hand, even the top Wyoming schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Wyoming licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Wyoming and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Wyoming schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the Wyoming school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide ample 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative 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 reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Wyoming schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain Wyoming trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of 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. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Wyoming, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Wyoming testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Wyoming school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession in Wyoming. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted in Wyoming.
Select the Right Trucking School
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Wyoming.