How to Pick a Truck Driver School near Shepherdstown West Virginia
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Shepherdstown WV. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Shepherdstown home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal way to make certain you’ll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to learn 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 choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully in West Virginia and within the United States, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person 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 Shepherdstown WV, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type 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 operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 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 need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Shepherdstown WV truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Shepherdstown WV truck driver schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Shepherdstown WV schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the West Virginia licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in West Virginia and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio 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 particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Shepherdstown WV schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the Shepherdstown WV school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver 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 operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Shepherdstown WV schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of Shepherdstown WV truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous 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 work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in West Virginia, find out if the Shepherdstown WV schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at West Virginia testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Shepherdstown WV school you enroll in provides 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 willing to devote 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 needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career in Shepherdstown WV. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing 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 Shepherdstown WV.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Truck Driver?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking job, it's advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. One of the things that interviewers frequently ask truck driving prospects is "What made you pick trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a trucking operator, but additionally what characteristics and talents you have that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining specifically to trucking, as well as a certain number of routine interview questions, so you need to ready several ideas about how you want to respond to them. Since there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an exceptional truck driver and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but jot down several concepts and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the interviewer.
Select the Right CDL School Shepherdstown WV
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance 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 drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive 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 many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Shepherdstown WV.
A Bit About Shepherdstown West Virginia
Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Shepherdstown is a town in Jefferson County, West Virginia, in the United States, located along the Potomac River. Home to Shepherd University, the town's population was 1,734 at the 2010 census.
Shepherdstown is located at 39°25′55″N 77°48′22″W / 39.43194°N 77.80611°W / 39.43194; -77.80611 (39.432005, -77.806108), along the Potomac River in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.37 square miles (0.96 km2), all of it land.
As of the census of 2010, there were 1,734 people, 518 households, and 192 families residing in the town. The population density was 4,686.5 inhabitants per square mile (1,809.5/km2). There were 583 housing units at an average density of 1,575.7 per square mile (608.4/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 85.5% White, 9.5% African American, 0.1% Native American, 1.3% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 1.0% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.9% of the population.
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