How to Pick the Best Truck Driver School near Salem Massachusetts
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Salem MA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Salem residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll get the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance 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 Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Salem MA, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are short explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. 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 Commercial Drivers License 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Salem MA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are a few more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Salem MA area are accredited because of the demanding 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 a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Salem MA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Massachusetts licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Massachusetts and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Salem MA schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the 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 level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide plenty of 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. 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 instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Salem MA schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Salem MA 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 truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Massachusetts, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Massachusetts testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Salem MA school you select 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 prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Salem MA employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Salem MA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Tractor Trailer Training Salem Massachusetts
Picking the right truck driver school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Tractor Trailer Training and wanting information on the topic Train To Be A Truck Driver. But first and foremost, you must obtain 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 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 enroll in an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Salem MA.
Truck On in These Other Massachusetts Locations
Salem (/ˈseɪləm/) is a historic coastal city in Essex County, Massachusetts, located in the North Shore region. It is a New England bedrock of history and is considered one of the most significant seaports in Puritan American history.
The city is home to the House of Seven Gables, Salem State University, the headquarters of The Satanic Temple, Salem Willows, Pioneer Village, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, and the Peabody Essex Museum. It also features historic residential neighborhoods in the Federal Street District and the Charter Street Historic District. Salem is a residential and tourist area which includes the neighborhoods of Salem Neck, Downtown Salem District, the Point, South Salem, North Salem, Blubber Hollow, Witchcraft Heights, and the McIntire Historic District named after Salem's famous architect Samuel McIntire.
Much of the city's cultural identity reflects its role as the location of the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692, as featured in Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Police cars are adorned with witch logos, a public elementary school is known as Witchcraft Heights, and the Salem High School athletic teams are named the Witches; Gallows Hill was originally believed to be the site of numerous public hangings, and it is currently used as a playing field for various sports.
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