How to Choose a Truck Driver School near Union Michigan
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Union MI. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Union residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to make certain you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target 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 rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss 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 United States and Union MI, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply 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 focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 needed to operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Union MI truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several more points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Union MI area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Union MI schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Michigan licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Michigan and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Union MI schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent 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 actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Union MI schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit 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 Union 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 truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Michigan, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Michigan testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Union 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 devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Union MI employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Union MI area trade or technical 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 navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Union MI?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Union Michigan area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Union Township, Michigan
Select the Right Truck Driving School Union MI
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new profession 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 several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Union MI.
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