How to Choose the Right CDL Driving School near Yelm Washington
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Yelm WA. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Yelm residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to make sure you’ll get the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills 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 select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Yelm WA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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 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. 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 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Yelm WA truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for instance 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 before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Yelm WA area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Yelm WA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Washington licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Washington and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. 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 attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Yelm WA schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing 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? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will provide plenty of 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Yelm WA schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driving 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 instead of having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff 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 reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Yelm WA schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Washington, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Washington testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Yelm WA school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend 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 must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Yelm WA employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Yelm WA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Yelm WA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Yelm Washington area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Yelm /jɛlm/ is a city in Thurston County, Washington, US. Its population was 6,848 at the 2010 census. At the beginning of the 21st century, Yelm was the 10th fastest growing city in the state in regard to population.
Yelm is in southeast Thurston County, Washington. It is a suburban city, surrounded by other suburban cities and pockets of unincorporated Thurston County. It is near the major transportation routes of Interstate 5 and State Routes 507, 510, and 702, which connect it economically and socially to the greater Puget Sound Region and provide a gateway to Mount Rainier.
The Yelm Prairie was originally inhabited by the Nisqually and provided good pasture for their horses. The first permanent non-indigenous settlers came in 1853 to join the Hudson's Bay Company sheep farmers who already conducted business in the area.
Driving Truck School Yelm WA
Picking the right truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered 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 Driving Truck School. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need 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 CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Yelm WA.
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