How to Find a CDL Driving School near Wisconsin Dells Wisconsin
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Wisconsin Dells WI. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Wisconsin Dells residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss 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 Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Wisconsin Dells WI, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify 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 address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 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 operators may be able to drive 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 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. 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 may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Wisconsin Dells WI truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more things 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 ? Not many trucking schools in the Wisconsin Dells WI area are accredited because of the demanding 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots 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 fulfill 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 poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Wisconsin Dells WI schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Wisconsin licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Wisconsin and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Wisconsin Dells WI schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional 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 may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide sufficient 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Wisconsin Dells WI schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Wisconsin Dells WI schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Wisconsin, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Wisconsin testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Wisconsin Dells WI 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 teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Wisconsin Dells WI employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Wisconsin Dells WI 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 examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Wisconsin Dells WI?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Wisconsin Dells Wisconsin area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Dells is a city in south-central Wisconsin, with a population of 2,678 people as of the 2010 census. It straddles four counties: Adams, Columbia, Juneau, and Sauk. The city takes its name from the Dells of the Wisconsin River, a scenic, glacially formed gorge that features striking sandstone formations along the banks of the Wisconsin River. Together with the nearby village of Lake Delton, the city forms an area known as "the Dells", a popular Midwestern tourist destination.
Wisconsin Dells was founded as Kilbourn City in 1857 by Byron Kilbourn, who also founded Kilbourntown, one of the three original towns at the confluence of the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic Rivers that joined to become Milwaukee. Before the establishment of Kilbourn City, the region around the dells of the Wisconsin River was primarily a lumbering area until 1851, when the La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad was chartered, with Kilbourn as its president. The railroad made plans to bridge the Wisconsin River near the river's dells, and a boomtown named Newport sprang up at the expected site of the bridge in 1853. The population of this new city quickly swelled to over 2,000, but when the railroad finally came through the area in 1857 it took nearly everyone by surprise by crossing the river a mile upstream from the site of Newport. As a result, Newport was rapidly turned into a ghost town as the settlers flocked to the new city at the site of the railroad bridge, Kilbourn City. The land at the point of crossing was originally owned by Parley Eaton. Byron Kilbourn bought the land from Eaton for a reduced price as everyone expected the railroad to cross at Newport. However, Kilbourn then went to Madison and lobbied the state to allow for the railroad right-of-way to be moved to cross at the point where he owned the land and greatly increased its value. Gradually, tourism became a large part of Kilbourn City. To make it easier for tourists to identify Kilbourn City with the natural landscape for which it was famous, the name of the city was changed to Wisconsin Dells in 1931. As the twentieth century progressed, new attractions began to draw even more tourists.
Because of the scenery provided by the dells of the Wisconsin River, Kilbourn City quickly became a popular travel destination in the Midwest. In 1856, Leroy Gates began taking tourists on boat tours of the Wisconsin Dells. These tours were given using wooden rowboats until 1873 when the first steamboat, the Modocawanda, was used. In 1875, early landscape photographer H. H. Bennett established a studio in the city and took many photos of the sandstone formations in the dells, including stereoscopic views. Prints of these photographs were distributed across the United States, further enhancing the status of Kilbourn City as a destination for sightseers. Taking advantage of this, Bennett began offering to take souvenir pictures of visitors to the dells, becoming one of the first to capitalize on the area's burgeoning tourist trade. Today, the H. H. Bennett Studio is an historic site operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Pick the Ideal Trucking School Wisconsin Dells WI
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation 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 offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to consider 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 choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Wisconsin Dells WI.
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