How to Find a Truck Driver School Watseka Illinois
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Watseka IL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Watseka residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to make sure you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Watseka IL, an operator needs to attain 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. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 greater 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, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Watseka IL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Watseka IL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Watseka 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 pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Illinois licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Illinois and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly 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 takes time. Most Watseka IL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s important 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 criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish plenty of 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Watseka IL schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Watseka IL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Illinois, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Illinois testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Watseka IL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Watseka IL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Watseka IL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Watseka IL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Watseka Illinois area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
The Old Iroquois County Courthouse was constructed in 1866, with two additions built in 1881 and 1927. In the early 1960s, an Iroquois County resident, Mrs. Katherine Clifton, bequeathed to the county in her will a large sum of money and a site upon which to build a new courthouse. It is the only courthouse in the United States built entirely with private funds.
The old courthouse was advertised for sale and fell into disuse. In 1967, during the Centennial Celebration of Watseka, the Iroquois County Historical Society was organized, and circulated petitions throughout the county not to sell the Old Courthouse. The petitions were approved by the County Board of Supervisors, and the Old Courthouse re-opened as a museum that same year. In 1975, the Old Courthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Watseka is located near the center of Iroquois County, at the intersection of U.S. Route 24 and Illinois Route 1. The Iroquois River winds along the north side of the town and is joined by Sugar Creek on the west side of town. The south half of the town is in Belmont Township; the north half is in Middleport Township. According to the 2010 census, Watseka has a total area of 3.05 square miles (7.90 km2), all land.
Pick the Right Trucking School Watseka IL
Selecting the right truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, 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 might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Watseka IL.
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