How to Decide on a Trucking School near Woodlawn Illinois
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Woodlawn IL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Woodlawn residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to ensure you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master 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 select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Illinois and within the USA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school near Woodlawn IL, we will focus on Class A and 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). Below are brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 CDL is required to drive 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. A few 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Woodlawn IL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are some additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Woodlawn IL truck driving schools are accredited because of the demanding 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Woodlawn IL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Illinois licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Illinois and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual 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 train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Woodlawn IL schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although 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 crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the Woodlawn IL 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 quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will provide plenty 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Woodlawn IL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some Woodlawn IL 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 relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Illinois, find out if the Woodlawn IL schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Illinois testing centers. 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 driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Woodlawn IL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For 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 employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career in Woodlawn IL. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed in Woodlawn IL.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Truck Driver?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you might be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask truck driving candidates is "What compelled you to decide on trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not just the private reasons you may have for being a trucking operator, but also what attributes and talents you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should organize some ideas about how you would like to address them. Because there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the talents you have that make you an excellent truck driver and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down several ideas and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the interviewer.
Select the Ideal Truck Driving School Woodlawn IL
Picking the right truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Woodlawn IL.
A Bit About Woodlawn Illinois
Woodlawn is a village in Jefferson County, Illinois, United States. The population was 698 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Mount Vernon Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Woodlawn is located at 38°19'50" North, 89°2'7" West (38.330572, -89.035343).
According to the 2010 census, the village has a total area of 0.86 square miles (2.2 km2), all land.
As of the census of 2000, there were 630 people, 241 households, and 185 families residing in the village. The population density was 882.3 per square mile (342.6/km²). There were 260 housing units at an average density of 364.1/sq mi (141.4/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 98.57% White, 0.16% African American, 0.16% Native American, 0.32% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races.
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