How to Select the Right Trucker School near Winona Kansas
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Winona KS. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Winona residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll obtain the proper 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 objective 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 review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Winona KS, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses 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 driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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 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 required 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 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 specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Winona KS truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Winona KS area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 meet the very high standards 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 operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Winona KS schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Kansas licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Kansas and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Winona KS schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers 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 qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish ample 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 essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Winona KS schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular 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 work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Winona KS schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Kansas, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Kansas testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Winona KS school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Winona KS employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Winona KS area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Winona KS?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Winona Kansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Winona was originally known as Gopher, and under the latter name was founded in 1884. It was renamed Winona in 1887. The community is named after the character Wenonah, the mother of Hiawatha in Longfellow's epic poem The Song of Hiawatha (1855).
Winona is located at 39°3′42″N 101°14′42″W / 39.06167°N 101.24500°W / 39.06167; -101.24500 (39.061639, -101.244995). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.26 square miles (0.67 km2), all of it land.
As of the census of 2010, there were 162 people, 74 households, and 40 families residing in the city. The population density was 623.1 inhabitants per square mile (240.6/km2). There were 107 housing units at an average density of 411.5 per square mile (158.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 96.9% White, 0.6% Asian, 1.9% from other races, and 0.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.1% of the population.
Tractor Trailer School Winona KS
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Tractor Trailer School. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Winona KS.
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