How to Find a CDL Driving School near Wheat Ridge Colorado
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Wheat Ridge CO. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Wheat Ridge home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the optimal way to make sure you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Wheat Ridge CO, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type 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 explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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. 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Wheat Ridge CO 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, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several additional things that you need to research while conducting 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 Wheat Ridge CO area are accredited because of the stringent 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 certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed 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 Wheat Ridge CO schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Colorado licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Colorado and employ instructors 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 greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Wheat Ridge CO schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will furnish plenty of 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Wheat Ridge CO schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous 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 choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Wheat Ridge CO schools you are looking at 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 trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Colorado, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Colorado testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Wheat Ridge CO school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time 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 holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Wheat Ridge CO employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Wheat Ridge CO area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Wheat Ridge CO?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Wheat Ridge Colorado area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Wheat Ridge is a Home Rule Municipality located in Jefferson County, Colorado, United States. Wheat Ridge is a western suburb of Denver. The Wheat Ridge Municipal Center is approximately 5 miles (8 km) west-northwest of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver. The city had a population of 30,166 as of the 2010 Census.
Although Wheat Ridge is a relatively young incorporated city, it has a history based on agriculture and the community’s location along regional travel routes. It grew from a popular rest stop for travelers during the Gold Rush of the late 1850s to an agricultural and suburban community known as the “Carnation City” in the mid 1900s. As the residential areas of unincorporated Jefferson County grew to provide housing to the Denver workforce during the 1950s, the major transportation corridors extending from Denver developed with commercial services. During that era, the formation of numerous utility and fire protection districts provided these unincorporated areas with urban services. Eventually, due to the increasing annexation pressure from nearby municipalities, Wheat Ridge incorporated in 1969.
Wheat Ridge is located at 39°45′58″N 105°04′38″W / 39.76611°N 105.07722°W / 39.76611; -105.07722 (39.7660980, -105.0772063) at an elevation of 5,459 feet (1,664 m). Located at the junction of Interstate 70 and Colorado State Highway 391 in central Colorado, the city is immediately west of Denver and 66 miles (106 km) north-northwest of Colorado Springs.
Select the Ideal Truck Driver School Wheat Ridge CO
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills 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 get the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to consider 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 enroll in an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Wheat Ridge CO.
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