How to Decide on a Truck Driving School near Wilmerding Pennsylvania
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Wilmerding PA. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Wilmerding home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal method to make sure you’ll get the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal 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 address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally in Pennsylvania and within the United States, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Wilmerding PA, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are brief 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. Some 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 required to drive 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. A few 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Wilmerding PA truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are some more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Wilmerding PA truck driving schools are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive 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 program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Wilmerding PA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out 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 additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Pennsylvania licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Pennsylvania and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving 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 time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Wilmerding PA schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained 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 a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the Wilmerding PA school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Wilmerding PA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of Wilmerding PA truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire 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 some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Pennsylvania, find out if the Wilmerding PA schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Pennsylvania testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Wilmerding PA school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an 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 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? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career in Wilmerding PA. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other trade or technical 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 get through the options and forms that need to be submitted in Wilmerding PA.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Tractor Trailer Operator?When prepping to interview for a Trucking job, it's helpful to review questions you may be asked. Among the things that interviewers often ask truck driving candidates is "What compelled you to decide on trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not just the private reasons you may have for becoming a trucking operator, but also what attributes and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must organize a number of approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a variety 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 excellent truck driver and the ideal choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down a few ideas and talking points that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Pick the Right Trucking School Wilmerding PA
Choosing the right trucking school is an important 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 several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Wilmerding PA.
A Bit About Wilmerding Pennsylvania
Wilmerding is a borough in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 2,190 at the 2010 census. It is located 12 miles (19 km) southeast of Pittsburgh. At the start of the twentieth century, it had extensive foundries and machine shops of the Westinghouse Air Brake Company. Wilmerding is adjacent to the borough of Turtle Creek, which takes its name from a small stream that flows past both places.
George Westinghouse purchased land in the Turtle Creek valley in 1887 and 1888 as a site for his Westinghouse Air Brake Company and related facilities. Westinghouse then sold the land to the East Pittsburgh Improvement Company, incorporated in December 1888, to develop the site, and it began the sale of lots in June 1889.
Wilmerding's most notable historic structure is the Westinghouse Air Brake Company General Office Building (1889–1890, rebuilt 1896), designed by Frederick J. Osterling and now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The community was named for Joanna Wilmerding (Bruce) Negley, wife of William B. Negley, who in turn was a local landowner and nephew of Thomas Mellon.
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