How to Pick a Truck Driver School near Willow Grove Pennsylvania
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Willow Grove PA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Willow Grove residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to make sure you’ll receive the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge 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 discuss in the balance 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?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Pennsylvania and within the USA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Willow Grove PA, we will address 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). Below are short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 more 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Willow Grove PA trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Willow Grove PA 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Willow Grove PA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Pennsylvania licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Pennsylvania and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion 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 especially true regarding 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 relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Willow Grove PA schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the Willow Grove PA school and talk to the teachers 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 qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish ample 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard 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 Willow Grove PA schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of Willow Grove PA truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Pennsylvania, find out if the Willow Grove PA schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Pennsylvania testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Willow Grove PA school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession in Willow Grove PA. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid 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. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed in Willow Grove PA.
Why Did You Want to Be a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the questions that recruiters often ask truck driving candidates is "What compelled you to choose trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not merely the private reasons you may have for becoming a trucker, but also what attributes and skills you have that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining specifically to trucking, in addition to a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to organize several ideas about how you want to answer them. Because there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you along with the strengths you have that make you an excellent truck driver and the best candidate for the position. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down several ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Willow Grove PA
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new profession 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 a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower 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 firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Willow Grove PA.
A Bit About Willow Grove Pennsylvania
Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
Willow Grove is a census-designated place (CDP) in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. A community in Philadelphia's northern suburbs, the population was 15,726 at the 2010 census. It is located in Upper Dublin Township, Abington Township and Upper Moreland Township. Willow Grove was once known for Willow Grove Park, an amusement park that was open from 1896 to 1976, now the site of Willow Grove Park Mall. Willow Grove is considered an edge city of Philadelphia with large amounts of retail and office space.
Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove was located northwest of the Willow Grove CDP in Horsham Township. NAS JRB Willow Grove transitioned into Horsham Air National Guard Station in September 2011.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 3.6 square miles (9.3 km2), of which 0.28% is water. It has a hot-summer humid continental climate (Dfa) and its hardiness zone is 7a.
As of the 2010 census, the CDP was 81.4% White, 8.2% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 4.9% Asian, 1.1% were Some Other Race, and 2.3% were two or more races. 3.5% of the population were of Hispanic or Latino ancestry.
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