How to Select a CDL Training School near Westfield Indiana
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Westfield IN. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Westfield residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll obtain the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills 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 pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally in Indiana and within the United States, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school near Westfield IN, we will highlight 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 explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 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. Some 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Westfield IN truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Westfield IN truck driving schools are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Westfield IN schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple 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 maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Indiana licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Indiana and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized 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 teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Westfield IN schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the Westfield IN school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent 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 actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Westfield IN schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from a number of Westfield IN truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Indiana, ask if the Westfield IN schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Indiana testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Westfield IN school you choose 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 willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career in Westfield IN. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other technical or vocational 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 least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted in Westfield IN.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Tractor Trailer Operator?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's important to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters typically ask truck driving candidates is "What compelled you to pick trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the private reasons you might have for becoming a truck driver, but additionally what characteristics and talents you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to prepare several ideas about how you would like to address them. Since there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an exceptional truck driver and the best candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but jot down several concepts and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Select the Right Truck Driver School Westfield IN
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to look into 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 the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Westfield IN.
A Bit About Westfield Indiana
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