How to Pick the Right Trucker School near Willow Springs Illinois
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Willow Springs IL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Willow Springs home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target 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 discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Willow Springs IL, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind 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 explanations for the two 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. 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 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. Several 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 certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Willow Springs IL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Willow Springs IL area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Willow Springs IL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Illinois licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Illinois and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. 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 individual attention 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Willow Springs IL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good 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. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Willow Springs IL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Willow Springs IL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Illinois, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Illinois testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Willow Springs IL 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 willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Willow Springs IL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Willow Springs IL area vocational or trade 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 completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Willow Springs IL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Willow Springs Illinois area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Willow Springs, Illinois
According to the 2010 census, Willow Springs has a total area of 4.116 square miles (10.66 km2), of which 4.01 square miles (10.39 km2) (or 97.42%) is land and 0.106 square miles (0.27 km2) (or 2.58%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 5,027 people, 1,948 households, and 1,381 families residing in the village. The population density was 1,299.8 people per square mile (501.5/km²). There were 1,991 housing units at an average density of 514.8 per square mile (198.6/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 93.91% White, 0.72% African American, 0.12% Native American, 1.85% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.07% from other races, and 2.31% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.05% of the population.
There were 1,948 households out of which 29.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.6% were married couples living together, 7.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.1% were non-families. 24.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.12.
CDL Classes Near Me Willow Springs IL
Picking the right truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Classes Near Me. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Willow Springs IL.
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