How to Decide on a CDL Driving School near Union Lake Michigan
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Union Lake MI. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to consider before making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Union Lake residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Union Lake MI, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 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. Several 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 may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Union Lake MI truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Union Lake MI area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Union Lake MI schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Michigan licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Michigan and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction 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 drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Union Lake MI schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. 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 qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great 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 real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Union Lake MI schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with a wide range of 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 be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Union Lake MI schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Michigan, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Michigan testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Union Lake MI school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Union Lake MI employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Union Lake MI area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Union Lake MI?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Union Lake Michigan area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Union Lake, Michigan
Union Lake is an unincorporated community in Oakland County in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located at the junction of four townships at 42°36′53″N 83°26′48″W / 42.61472°N 83.44667°W / 42.61472; -83.44667Coordinates: 42°36′53″N 83°26′48″W / 42.61472°N 83.44667°W / 42.61472; -83.44667:
Choose the Ideal Trucking School Union Lake MI
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might 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 enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Union Lake MI.
More Trucking Locations in Michigan
Business Results 1 - 10 of 40