How to Select a Truck Driver School near Vicksburg Michigan
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Vicksburg MI. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Vicksburg home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally in Michigan and within the United States, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school near Vicksburg MI, we will focus on 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). Below are brief descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. A few 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Vicksburg MI trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some 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 Vicksburg MI trucking schools are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty 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 course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Vicksburg MI 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 regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Michigan licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Michigan and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Vicksburg MI schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the Vicksburg MI school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good 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 real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Vicksburg MI schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from some Vicksburg MI truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly 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 remember to find out if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Michigan, find out if the Vicksburg MI schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Michigan testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Vicksburg MI school you choose provides 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 willing to devote 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession in Vicksburg MI. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other technical or vocational 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 need to be completed in Vicksburg MI.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask truck driving candidates is "What drove you to choose trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a trucker, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to trucking, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to prepare some strategies about how you would like to address them. Since there are numerous variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the abilities you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the ideal choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but write down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
Choose the Right Truck Driver School Vicksburg MI
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local 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 available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Vicksburg MI.
A Bit About Vicksburg Michigan
Siege of Vicksburg
GRANT'S OPERATIONS AGAINST VICKSBURG (March 29 - July 4, 1863):
The Siege of Vicksburg (May 18 – July 4, 1863) was the final major military action in the Vicksburg Campaign of the American Civil War. In a series of maneuvers, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee crossed the Mississippi River and drove the Confederate Army of Mississippi, led by Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton, into the defensive lines surrounding the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Vicksburg was the last major Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River; therefore, capturing it completed the second part of the Northern strategy, the Anaconda Plan. When two major assaults (May 19 and 22, 1863) against the Confederate fortifications were repulsed with heavy casualties, Grant decided to besiege the city beginning on May 25. After holding out for more than forty days, with no reinforcement and supplies nearly gone, the garrison finally surrendered on July 4.
The successful ending of the Vicksburg Campaign significantly degraded the ability of the Confederacy to maintain its war effort, as described in the Aftermath section of the campaign article. Some historians—e.g., Ballard, p. 308—suggest that the decisive battle in the campaign was actually the Battle of Champion Hill, which, once won by Grant, made victory in the subsequent siege a foregone conclusion. This action (combined with the surrender of Port Hudson to Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks on July 9) yielded command of the Mississippi River to the Union forces, who would hold it for the rest of the conflict.
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