How to Select a CDL Driving School near Westville Oklahoma
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Westville OK. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Westville residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams 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 balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Oklahoma and within the USA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes 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 near Westville OK, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are brief explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 operate certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Westville OK truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below 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 ? Very few Westville OK trucking schools are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common 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 caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Westville OK schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Oklahoma licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Oklahoma and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Westville OK schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to visit the Westville OK school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. After all, 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 necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Westville OK schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of Westville OK truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit 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 reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Oklahoma, find out if the Westville OK schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Oklahoma testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Westville OK school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain 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 attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career in Westville OK. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out 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 need to be submitted in Westville OK.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Truck Driver?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you could be asked. Among the things that interviewers frequently ask truck driving prospects is "What drove you to select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a trucking operator, but also what characteristics and talents you possess that make you good at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to prepare a number of strategies about how you would like to address them. Since there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the best choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down a few ideas and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Pick the Right Truck Driving School Westville OK
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Westville OK.
A Bit About Westville Oklahoma
Before statehood, Westville was a community in the Goingsnake District of the Cherokee Nation. The town was founded in 1895, when the Kansas City, Pittsburg and Gulf Railroad (later acquired by the Kansas City Southern Railroad) was constructing a rail line from Kansas City to the Gulf Coast. The Westville post office was established on November 18, 1895. The town name honored Jim West, who lived one mile south of nearby Cincinnati, Arkansas, and whose son, Jim West, Jr., was an attorney for the Kansas City Southern Railway.
When Adair County was formed in 1907, Westville was identified as the county seat, due partly to its location at the intersection of two major railroads: the Kansas City Southern Railway and the St. Louis – San Francisco Railway. The county seat was moved to Stilwell in 1910.
Westville is located at 35°59′29″N 94°34′16″W / 35.99139°N 94.57111°W / 35.99139; -94.57111 (35.991414, -94.571088). It is 13 miles (21 km) north of Stilwell and 15 miles (24 km) south of Siloam Springs, Arkansas.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,596 people, 599 households, and 401 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,324.1 people per square mile (509.3/km²). There were 719 housing units at an average density of 596.5 per square mile (229.4/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 62.41% White, 0.25% African American, 28.07% Native American, 0.31% Asian, 2.63% from other races, and 6.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.02% of the population.
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