How to Choose a CDL Driving School Washington Kansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Washington KS. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Washington home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to make certain you’ll get the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal 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 talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Washington KS, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Washington KS truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are some more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Washington KS area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks 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 operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Washington KS schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Kansas licensing authority to make sure 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 Kansas and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Washington KS schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Washington KS schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified 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 associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Washington KS schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Kansas, ask if the schools you are looking at 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 Kansas testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Washington KS school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates 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 few Washington KS employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Washington KS area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Washington KS?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Washington Kansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Washington was established in spring 1860, and in the same year named county seat. Until the end of the American Civil War it was protected by two stockaded buildings, the Washington Company House and Woolbert's Stockade Hotel.
Washington is 39°N 97°W / 39°N 97°W / 39; -97 (39.816877, -97.052503). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.91 square miles (2.36 km2), of which 0.87 square miles (2.25 km2) is land and 0.04 square miles (0.10 km2) is water.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,131 people, 512 households, and 311 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,300.0 inhabitants per square mile (501.9/km2). There were 582 housing units at an average density of 669.0 per square mile (258.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.8% White, 0.3% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 0.4% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.3% of the population.
Select the Right CDL School Washington KS
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Washington KS.
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