How to Decide on a CDL Training School near Walker Louisiana
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Walker LA. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Walker home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Walker LA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 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 required 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 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, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Walker LA trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Walker LA area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Walker LA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of 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 Louisiana licensing department 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 should be licensed in Louisiana and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims 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 professionally requires time. The majority of Walker LA schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, 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 he or she will be. Although driving time differs between 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. Get in touch with the Walker LA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Walker LA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Louisiana, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Louisiana testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Walker LA school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular 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 attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Make sure 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 national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Walker LA employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Walker LA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Walker LA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Walker Louisiana area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
The area now known as Walker was founded by Michael Joseph Milton, Jr. (1795-1863) and “several slaves” in 1825. Michael Milton married in 1832 in Livingston Parish. He and his wife, Martha Clark Milton (1803-1878) developed 343 acres from a Land Grant for his service in the War of 1812. The Milton family was a pioneering family from North Carolina who settled an area in Alabama, before establishing the new community in the piney woods east of the Amite River and Denham Springs In this sense, Walker, Louisiana, by virtue of its founding, traces its roots to the founding of the nation in Jamestown. The Federal government recognized the growth of the settlement and opened a post office as Milton Old Field in 1856. Michael Milton was appointed as postmaster in 1858. In 1890 the post office was renamed after Dr. William Elliott Walker, M.D., a legislator from nearby Springfield, who had, also, served as a Lt. Col. in the Confederate States of America.
Walker is located at 30°29′22″N 90°51′46″W / 30.48944°N 90.86278°W / 30.48944; -90.86278 (30.489423, -90.862872). According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 5.8 square miles (14.9 km²), all land.
The 2010 Census noted the population of Walker is 6,138 - up 28% over the past decade. Walker officially became a city. As of the census of 2000, there were 4,801 people, 1,758 households, and 1,320 families residing in the town. The population density was 834.8 people per square mile (322.4/km²). There were 1,905 housing units at an average density of 331.2 per square mile (127.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 86.34% White, 12.37% African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.04% Asian, 0.23% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.19% of the population.
Pick the Best Trucking School Walker LA
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is a critical 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 forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving 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 in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Walker LA.
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