How to Decide on the Best CDL Training Classes near Northfield Massachusetts
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Northfield MA. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Northfield home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll get the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Northfield MA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Northfield MA trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Northfield MA area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Northfield MA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Massachusetts licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Massachusetts and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Northfield MA schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although 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. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to 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 ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Northfield MA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide 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 benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Northfield MA schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Massachusetts, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Massachusetts testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Northfield MA school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering 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 companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Northfield MA employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Northfield MA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
CDL License School Northfield Massachusetts
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL License School and wanting information on the topic Truck Driving Lessons. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need 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 trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Northfield MA.
Truck On in These Other Massachusetts Locations
Northfield is a town in Franklin County, Massachusetts, United States. Northfield was first settled in 1673. The population was 3,032 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The Connecticut River runs through the town, dividing West Northfield from East Northfield and the village of Northfield, where the town hall is located.
The village of Skakeat/Squakheag was the site of modern day Northfield and was home to the Nashaway Nipmuc and Sokoki Abenaki. Northfield was first colonized in 1673 by the English and was officially incorporated in 1723. Indian Land Deeds for Hampshire County, Including Later Berkshire, Franklin, and Hampden Counties, gives the name of the otan (village) as Squakheag (a Nipmuk name), also Skakeat (Sokoki Abenaki). John Eliot, in his Brief Narrative...History of the Nipmuk, attributes this village to the Nipmuc.
The territory was successfully defended a number of times by Native Americans. The Battle on Beer's Plain occurred in Nothfield in 1675. Peter Jethro, a Praying Indian, a son of Tantamous, a Nipmuc originally from Concord who was reputed to be a pauwau, spent a brief stint in the Northfield area as a Christian minister before a massacre plunged him into King Philip's War. During the War Peter Jethro freed an English captive near Northfield.As a result of the conflict, the English colonists were occasionally taken north to Quebec, held as hostages by the French, causing the town to revert to American Indian control a few times. Eventually, conflicts with the Native American population ceased after most of the native population was displaced and/or sold into slavery as a result of King Philip's War and after a series of massacres of local Indian villages.
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