How to Decide on a Truck Driver School near West Point Nebraska
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near West Point NE. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your West Point residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you’ll get the right training. Don’t forget, your objective 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 goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance 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 Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Nebraska and within the United States, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near West Point NE, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 may also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the West Point NE truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many West Point NE truck driving schools are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of West Point NE schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Nebraska licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Nebraska and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most West Point NE schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the West Point NE school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the West Point NE schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some West Point NE truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Nebraska, find out if the West Point NE schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Nebraska testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the West Point NE school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career in West Point NE. 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 hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed in West Point NE.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Trucker?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to decide on trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a truck driver, but additionally what attributes and talents you have that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready some strategies about how you want to respond to them. Given that there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the talents you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down several concepts and talking points that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reading through sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Pick the Right CDL School West Point NE
Selecting the right truck driver 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 forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to consider 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 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 decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in West Point NE.
A Bit About West Point Nebraska
West Point, Nebraska
West Point is a city in and the county seat of Cuming County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 3,364 at the 2010 census.
West Point was first founded in the spring of 1857, when Omaha businessmen formed the Nebraska Settlement Association in order to find suitable townsites in the Elkhorn Valley. Uriah, John, and Andrew Bruner (three brothers originally from Pennsylvania), and William Sexauer chose the present location on a bend along a river, which they called New Philadelphia. The name was soon changed to West Point because it was the westernmost outpost along the valley.
West Point became the county seat of Cuming County on October 12, 1858 after winning the election over the community of DeWitt. A total of 19 votes were split between the two towns with West Point obtaining 12 votes. By the spring of 1859, over 4,000 Pawnee natives flooded the Elkhorn Valley during a hunting excursion and, displeased to find white settlers in the valley, burned several homesteads and killed livestock. The so-called Pawnee War ended near Battle Creek without a fight.
West Point grew slowly at first, but with the coming of the railroad in 1870, it boomed to a population of over 700.
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