How to Pick a Trucking School near Washington Kansas
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Washington KS. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Washington home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally in Kansas and within the United States, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes 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 near Washington KS, 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). 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. Some 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 CDL 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. A few 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate 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 CDL School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Washington KS truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are a few additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Washington KS trucking schools are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Washington KS schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Kansas licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Kansas and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Washington KS schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the Washington KS school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark 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 Washington KS schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from some Washington KS truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Kansas, find out if the Washington KS schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Kansas testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Washington KS school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new career in Washington KS. Make sure 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 referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted in Washington KS.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Truck Driver?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's advantageous to review questions you may be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers often ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to select trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a truck driver, but additionally what attributes and talents you have that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, in addition to a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should ready some approaches about how you would like to address them. Considering there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the talents you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down a few ideas and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
Select the Ideal Truck Driver School Washington KS
Selecting the right trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills 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 crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may 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 select an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Washington KS.
A Bit About Washington Kansas
Nicodemus National Historic Site
Nicodemus National Historic Site, located in Nicodemus, Kansas, United States, preserves, protects and interprets the only remaining western town established by African Americans during the Reconstruction Period following the American Civil War. The town of Nicodemus is symbolic of the pioneer spirit of African Americans who dared to leave the only region they had been familiar with to seek personal freedom and the opportunity to develop their talents and capabilities. The site was named, at least in part, for a legendary African-American slave featured in abolitionist Henry Clay Work's "Wake, Nicodemus (1864)." It is a mystical story of an old slave died away and buried in a hollow tree who had asked to be awakened on the Day of Jubilee.
The historic site contains five buildings:
Nicodemus was founded in 1877, led by Rev. W.H. Smith, a black minister, and W.R. Hill, a white land developer, and five other black men who formed the Nicodemus Town Company and began visiting churches in Kentucky to encourage people to move to Kansas. Kansas was a free state, part of the Underground Railroad and home to abolitionist John Brown. Handbills and flyers distributed by the company called Nicodemus a place for "African Americans to establish a black self-government."
By the mid-1880s Nicodemus was a small, bustling town. There were two newspapers, three general stores and at least three churches. The town had a number of small hotels, an ice cream parlor, bank, livery and a number of homes. The population was an estimated 700 at the town's heyday.
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