How to Decide on a CDL Training School near Vanleer Tennessee
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Vanleer TN. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Vanleer residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll receive the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow 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 remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Vanleer TN, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following 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 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 greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can 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 Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Vanleer TN trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Vanleer TN area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical 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. Prospective students know 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Vanleer TN schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Tennessee licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Tennessee and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, 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 personal attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Vanleer TN schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Vanleer TN schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known 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 refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Vanleer TN schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Tennessee, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Tennessee testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Vanleer TN school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit 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 fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage 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 few Vanleer TN employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Vanleer TN area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Vanleer TN?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Vanleer Tennessee area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Vanleer is a town in Dickson County, Tennessee. The population was 310 at the 2000 census and 395 at the 2010 census. The town is named for Anthony Van Leer, onetime operator of the iron works in nearby Cumberland Furnace.
As of the census of 2000, there were 310 people, 124 households, and 90 families residing in the town. The population density was 500.9 people per square mile (193.1/km²). There were 141 housing units at an average density of 227.8 per square mile (87.8/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 94.52% White, 0.65% African American, and 4.84% from two or more races.
There were 124 households out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.5% were married couples living together, 12.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.4% were non-families. 25.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 2.88.
Choose the Right Truck Driver School Vanleer TN
Choosing the right truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning 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 several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Vanleer TN.
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