How to Choose a Truck Driver School near Wausau Wisconsin
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Wausau WI. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Wausau residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to make sure you’ll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally in Wisconsin and within the United States, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify 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 Wausau WI, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 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 may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Wausau WI truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Wausau WI truck driving schools are accredited due to the demanding 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Wausau WI schools had to begin 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 pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Wisconsin licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Wisconsin and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Wausau WI schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of 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 vital that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to check out the Wausau WI school and speak with the teachers face to face. 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Wausau WI schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from some Wausau WI truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Wisconsin, ask if the Wausau WI schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Wisconsin testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Wausau WI school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession in Wausau WI. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national 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 may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving 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 navigate the options and forms that must be submitted in Wausau WI.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Trucker?When prepping to interview for a Trucking job, it's advantageous to review questions you may be asked. Among the things that hiring managers frequently ask truck driving candidates is "What drove you to pick trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not merely the private reasons you may have for becoming a trucking operator, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to prepare several ideas about how you would like to answer them. Because there are numerous variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the talents you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the best candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down several concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Choose the Best CDL School Wausau WI
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want 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 choose an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Wausau WI.
A Bit About Wausau Wisconsin
Wausau is a city in and the county seat of Marathon County, Wisconsin, United States. The Wisconsin River divides the city into east and west. The city is adjacent to the Town of Wausau.
As of the 2010 census, Wausau had a population of 39,106. It is the core city of the Wausau Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes all of Marathon County and had a population of 134,063 at the 2010 census.
This area was occupied for thousands of years by succeeding cultures of indigenous peoples. The historic Ojibwe (also known in the United States as the Chippewa) occupied it in the period of European encounter. They had a lucrative fur trade for decades with French colonists and French Canadians. After the French and Indian War this trade was dominated by British-American trappers from the eastern seaboard.
The Wisconsin River first drew European-American settlers to the area during the mid-19th century as they migrated west into the Great Lakes region following construction of the Erie Canal in New York State. This provided a route for products from the region to the large New York and other eastern markets. The area had been called "Big Bull Flats" or "Big Bull Falls" by French explorers, who were the first Europeans here. They named it for the long rapids in the river, which created many bubbles, called bulle in French. By an 1836 treaty with the United States, the Ojibwe ceded much of their lands in the area to federal ownership. It was sold to non-Native peoples. Wausau, from Ojibwe “waasa” means "a faraway place" or "a place from which one can see far away" in the Ojibwe language.
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