How to Find a CDL Training School near West Paducah Kentucky
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near West Paducah KY. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your West Paducah home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and West Paducah KY, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses 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 driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the West Paducah KY truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the West Paducah KY area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided 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 be given lots 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked 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 West Paducah KY schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Kentucky licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Kentucky and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. 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 personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of West Paducah KY schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish sufficient 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the West Paducah KY schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the West Paducah KY schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there 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 allowed in Kentucky, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Kentucky testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the West Paducah KY school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many West Paducah KY employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other West Paducah KY area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near West Paducah KY?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the West Paducah Kentucky area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Paducah (/pəˈduːkə/) is a home rule-class city in and the county seat of McCracken County, Kentucky, United States. The largest city in the Jackson Purchase region, it is located at the confluence of the Tennessee and the Ohio rivers, halfway between St. Louis, Missouri, to the northwest and Nashville, Tennessee, to the southeast. The population was 25,145 in 2016, up slightly from 25,024 during the 2010 U.S. Census. Twenty blocks of the city's downtown have been designated as a historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Chickasaw and their indigenous ancestors occupied the areas along the rivers for thousands of years before Europeans appeared in the area. The Chickasaw used the area at the confluence as a trading site for an extended river network to connect with other tribes.
Paducah was first settled as Pekin c. 1821 by European Americans James and William Pore. The community – favorably located at the confluence of several waterways – occupied a site previously noted as a Chickasaw trading center.
Select the Right Truck Driving School West Paducah KY
Choosing the right truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in West Paducah KY.
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