How to Decide on the Right CDL Driving School near Wheeling Illinois
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Wheeling IL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Wheeling home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on 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 review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Wheeling IL, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 explanations 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 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 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. Some 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 operate certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Wheeling IL truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Wheeling IL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Wheeling IL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to 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 regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt 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 Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Illinois and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio 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 be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Wheeling IL schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some 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? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish ample driving time to its students. After all, 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 methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Wheeling IL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships 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 freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Wheeling IL schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Illinois, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Illinois testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Wheeling IL school you select offers 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 devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Wheeling IL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Wheeling IL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Wheeling IL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Wheeling Illinois area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Wheeling is a village in Cook and Lake counties in the U.S. state of Illinois. A suburb of Chicago, it is primarily in Cook County, approximately 23 mi (37 km) northwest of downtown Chicago. The population was 37,648 at the 2010 census. Wheeling is named for Wheeling, West Virginia.
According to the 2010 census, the village has a total area of 8.74 square miles (22.6 km2), of which 8.74 square miles (22.6 km2) (or 97.26%) is land and 0.24 square miles (0.62 km2) (or 2.74%) is water.
The climate in Wheeling can be classified as temperate. Winters are usually very cold and snowy. Summers are often hot and humid, but can be pleasantly warm as well. Precipitation is uniformly distributed throughout the year.
Trucking Schools Near Me Wheeling IL
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation 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 several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Trucking Schools Near Me. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. 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 trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. 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 Wheeling IL.
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