How to Pick a Trucking School near University Center Michigan
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near University Center MI. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your University Center residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance 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 Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and University Center MI, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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. 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 need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the University Center MI trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are a few more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the University Center MI area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount 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 Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively 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 best of University Center MI schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Michigan licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Michigan and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most University Center MI schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though 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 receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good 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 University Center MI schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the University Center MI schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Michigan, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Michigan testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the University Center MI school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few University Center MI employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other University Center MI area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near University Center MI?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the University Center Michigan area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
University Center, Michigan
In the 1950s, leaders and residents of Bay, Saginaw and Midland counties asked state authorities for local institutions of higher education. A college district was established in 1957 and Delta College opened in September 1961.
A post office named "University Center" was opened on July 16, 1961 to serve the institutions. The ZIP code is designated as unique by the postal service, indicating that it is "used for a specific company or organization." SVSU lies entirely within Saginaw County's Kochville Township, and Delta College lies entirely within Bay County's Frankenlust Township, but both institutions are served by the University Center ZIP code.
Choose the Best Truck Driver School University Center MI
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new profession 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 several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in University Center MI.
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