How to Choose a CDL Training School near Wakefield Michigan
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Wakefield MI. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Wakefield home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best method to ensure you’ll receive the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Michigan and within the United States, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school near Wakefield MI, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Wakefield MI trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Wakefield MI truck driving schools are accredited due to the demanding process and cost 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 several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Wakefield MI schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Michigan licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Michigan and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Wakefield MI schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the Wakefield MI school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Wakefield MI schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from some Wakefield MI trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make 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 several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Michigan, find out if the Wakefield MI schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Michigan testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Wakefield MI school you select offers 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 spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career in Wakefield MI. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating 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 Wakefield MI.
Why Did You Want to Become a Truck Driver?When preparing to interview for a Trucking position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers typically ask truck driving applicants is "What made you select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a truck driver, but additionally what characteristics and abilities you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to trucking, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you must organize several strategies about how you want to address them. Given that there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional truck driver and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down several concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
Pick the Best CDL School Wakefield MI
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an essential 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 offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even 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 several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Wakefield MI.
A Bit About Wakefield Michigan
Wakefield was dubbed the "Merrie City" in the Middle Ages and in 1538 John Leland described it as, "a very quick market town and meately large; well served of fish and flesh both from sea and by rivers ... so that all vitaile is very good and chepe there. A right honest man shall fare well for 2d. a meal. ... There be plenti of se coal in the quarters about Wakefield".[nb 1]
The Battle of Wakefield took place in the Wars of the Roses and it was a Royalist stronghold in the Civil War. Wakefield became an important market town and centre for wool, exploiting its position on the navigable River Calder to become an inland port.
In the 18th century, Wakefield traded in corn, coal mining and textiles and in 1888 its parish church acquired cathedral status. It became the county town of the West Riding of Yorkshire and was the seat of the West Riding County Council from 1889 until 1974, when the county and council were abolished, and of the West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council from 1974 until its dissolution in 1986.
The name "Wakefield" may derive from "Waca's field" – the open land belonging to someone named "Waca" or could have evolved from the Old English word wacu, meaning "a watch or wake", and feld, an open field in which a wake or festival was held. In the Domesday Book of 1086, it was written Wachefeld and also as Wachefelt.
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