Category Archives: Michigan

Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools Vandalia MI

How to Find a Truck Driver School near Vandalia Michigan

Vandalia MI truck driving school campusCongrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Vandalia MI. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Vandalia residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills 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 address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?

long haul tractor trailer in Vandalia MITo operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Vandalia MI, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class 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 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. 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.

How to Research a Trucking School

Questions to ask Vandalia MI truck driving schoolsAs soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Vandalia MI truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are a few more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Vandalia MI area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated 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 Vandalia MI schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Michigan licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.

How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Michigan and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized 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 professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Vandalia MI schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide ample 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Vandalia MI schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Vandalia MI schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there 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 permitted in Michigan, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Michigan testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Vandalia MI school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Vandalia MI employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Vandalia 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Vandalia MI?

If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Vandalia Michigan area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.

Vandalia, Michigan

Vandalia is a village in Penn Township, Cass County in the U.S. state of Michigan. The population was 301 at the 2010 census. It is part of the South Bend–Mishawaka, IN-MI, Metropolitan Statistical Area.

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 301 people, 107 households, and 77 families residing in the village. The population density was 304.0 inhabitants per square mile (117.4/km2). There were 141 housing units at an average density of 142.4 per square mile (55.0/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 41.5% White, 42.2% African American, 0.3% Native American, 7.6% Asian, 1.7% from other races, and 6.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.7% of the population.

There were 107 households of which 36.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.9% were married couples living together, 21.5% had a female householder with no husband present, 6.5% had a male householder with no wife present, and 28.0% were non-families. 23.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.29.

Pick the Right Trucking School Vandalia MI

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in Vandalia MIChoosing the right trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn 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. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to think about 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 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 no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Vandalia MI.

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