How to Find a CDL Training School near Van Meter Iowa
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Van Meter IA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Van Meter home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to make sure you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Van Meter IA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will address Class A and 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). Following are short explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate 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 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as 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 Assess a CDL School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Van Meter IA trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Van Meter IA area are accredited due to the stringent 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 several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. 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 Van Meter IA schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Iowa licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Iowa and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers 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 obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is especially 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 time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Van Meter IA schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Van Meter IA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Van Meter IA schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Iowa, find out 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 Iowa testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Van Meter IA school you choose offers 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 prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify 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, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Van Meter IA employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Van Meter IA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Van Meter IA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Van Meter Iowa area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Van Meter, Iowa
Van Meter is a city in Dallas County, Iowa, United States, along the Raccoon River. The population was 1,016 at the 2010 census, with an estimated population in 2014 of 1,133. Van Meter is part of the Des Moines–West Des Moines Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Van Meter was laid out as a town in 1869. The city was named for Jacob Rhodes Van Meter and his family, Dutch settlers from Meteren, the Netherlands. Van Meter was incorporated on December 29, 1877.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,016 people, 382 households, and 280 families residing in the city. The population density was 793.8 inhabitants per square mile (306.5/km2). There were 415 housing units at an average density of 324.2 per square mile (125.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.9% White, 0.2% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.6% Asian, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.6% of the population.
Pick the Right CDL School Van Meter IA
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Van Meter IA.
More Trucking Locations in Iowa