How to Choose the Right Trucker School near Winterset Iowa
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Winterset IA. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Winterset residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll obtain the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Winterset IA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 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. A few 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 CDL 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. Some 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as 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 authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Winterset IA truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Winterset IA area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Winterset IA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Iowa licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Iowa and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next 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 getting the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach 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 Winterset IA schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although 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 stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Winterset IA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to 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 free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Winterset IA schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Iowa, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Iowa testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Winterset IA school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Winterset IA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Winterset IA area technical or vocational 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 must be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Winterset IA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Winterset Iowa area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.72 square miles (12.22 km2), of which, 4.58 square miles (11.86 km2) is land and 0.14 square miles (0.36 km2) is water.
As of the census of 2010, there were 5,190 people, 2,062 households, and 1,336 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,133.2 inhabitants per square mile (437.5/km2). There were 2,267 housing units at an average density of 495.0 per square mile (191.1/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 98.1% White, 0.2% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 0.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.0% of the population.
There were 2,062 households of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.5% were married couples living together, 9.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 3.3% had a male householder with no wife present, and 35.2% were non-families. 31.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 16% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.05.
School CDL Training Winterset IA
Selecting the ideal 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 mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in School CDL Training. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm 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 in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Winterset IA.
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