How to Select a Trucking School near West Point Kentucky
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near West Point KY. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your West Point residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick 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 talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Kentucky and within the USA, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near West Point KY, 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 together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 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. Some 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the West Point KY truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few West Point KY truck driver schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top West Point KY schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Kentucky licensing authority to make sure 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 Kentucky and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers 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 getting 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of West Point KY schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the West Point KY school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through 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? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the West Point KY schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some West Point KY truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with numerous 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 freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal 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 third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Kentucky, find out if the West Point KY schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Kentucky testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the West Point KY school you enroll in 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 prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession in West Point KY. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other vocational or trade 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 least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted in West Point KY.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's helpful to consider questions you might be asked. Among the questions that recruiters often ask truck driving candidates is "What made you pick trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the private reasons you may have for being a truck driver, but also what qualities and skills you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should ready several ideas about how you would like to address them. Considering there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the talents you possess that make you an exceptional truck driver and the leading choice for the position. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down some ideas and talking points that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can help you to prepare your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driving School West Point KY
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in West Point KY.
A Bit About West Point Kentucky
West Point, Kentucky
West Point is a home rule-class city in Hardin County, Kentucky, United States, near the edge of Fort Knox military reservation on Dixie Highway. It is located in a former meander bend of the Ohio River. The population was 797 at the 2010 census, down from 1,100 at the 2000 census.
West Point is part of the Elizabethtown–Fort Knox Metropolitan Statistical Area.
West Point was founded by pioneer James Young, who built a cabin at the site in 1789 and, in 1797, built a brick house and inn that is still standing today. In 1803, Lewis and Clark passed nearby and recruited West Point citizen John Shields to join their Corps of Discovery.
West Point sits at the confluence of the Ohio and Salt rivers, a strategic position that led Union forces to construct a fort here during the Civil War to protect their supply routes. Fort Duffield is the state's largest and best-preserved earthen fortification from the period.
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