How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Watertown Wisconsin
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Watertown WI. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Watertown residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best method to guarantee you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally in Wisconsin and within the United States, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school near Watertown WI, 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Watertown WI truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Watertown WI truck driver schools are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 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 operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Watertown WI schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Wisconsin licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Wisconsin and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Watertown WI schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to visit the Watertown WI school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish plenty 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Watertown WI schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain Watertown WI truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to get 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 a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Wisconsin, find out if the Watertown WI schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Wisconsin testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Watertown WI school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession in Watertown WI. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out 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 referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted in Watertown WI.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking job, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers often ask truck driving prospects is "What drove you to select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the personal reasons you might have for becoming a truck driver, but also what attributes and abilities you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you should ready several ideas about how you want to answer them. Because there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a variety of ways. When formulating an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the ideal choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down some ideas and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can assist you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
Choose the Right Truck Driver School Watertown WI
Selecting the right trucking school is a critical 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 many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might 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 firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Watertown WI.
A Bit About Watertown Wisconsin
Watertown is a city in Dodge and Jefferson counties in the US state of Wisconsin. Most of the city's population is in Jefferson County. Division Street, several blocks north of downtown, marks the county line. The population of Watertown was 23,861 at the 2010 census. Of this, 15,402 were in Jefferson County, and 8,459 were in Dodge County.
Watertown is the largest city in the Watertown-Fort Atkinson micropolitan area, which also includes Johnson Creek and Jefferson.
Watertown was first settled by Timothy Johnson, who built a cabin on the west side of the Rock River in 1836. He was born in Middleton, Middlesex County, Connecticut, on the 28th of June, 1792. A park on the west side of the city is named in his honor. The area was settled to utilize the power of the Rock River, which falls 20 feet (6.1 m) in two miles (two 10-foot (3.0 m) dams). In contrast, the Rock River falls only 34 feet (10 m) in 58 miles (93 km) upstream from Watertown. The water power was first used for sawmills, and later prompted the construction of two hydroelectric dams, one downtown (where the river flows south) and one on the eastern edge of the city (where the river flows north).
Watertown was a New England settlement. The original founders of Watertown consisted entirely of settlers from New England, particularly Connecticut, rural Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, as well some from upstate New York who were born to parents who had migrated to that region from New England shortly after the American Revolution. These people were "Yankees", that is to say they were descended from the English Puritans who settled New England in the 1600s. They were part of a wave of New England farmers who headed west into what was then the wilds of the Northwest Territory during the early 1800s. Most of them arrived as a result of the completion of the Erie Canal as well as the end of the Black Hawk War. When they arrived in what is now Watertown there was nothing but dense virgin forest and wild prairie, the New Englanders laid out farms, constructed roads, erected government buildings and established post routes. They brought with them many of their Yankee New England values, such as a passion for education, establishing many schools as well as staunch support for abolitionism. They were mostly members of the Congregationalist Church though some were Episcopalian. Due to the second Great Awakening some of them had converted to Methodism and some had become Baptists before moving to what is now Watertown. Watertown, like much of Wisconsin, would be culturally very continuous with early New England culture for most of its early history.
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