How to Pick the Right Trucker School near Southwick Massachusetts
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Southwick MA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Southwick residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to ensure you’ll obtain the proper training. Just remember, your goal 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 pick a truck driving school? That 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 eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Southwick MA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 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. 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Southwick MA truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Southwick MA area are accredited due to the demanding 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 certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Southwick MA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Massachusetts licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Massachusetts and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch 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 professionally requires time. Most Southwick MA schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some 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.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although 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 gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates 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 Southwick MA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations 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 be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Southwick MA schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available 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 battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Massachusetts testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Southwick MA school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Southwick MA employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Southwick MA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Get My CDL License Southwick Massachusetts
Selecting the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Get My CDL License and wanting information on the topic How To Choose A Trucking School. However, you must get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive 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 choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Southwick MA.
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Southwick is a town in Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 9,502 at the 2010 census, up from 8,835 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area.
In the mid-17th century, pioneering English explorers moving up the Connecticut River Valley, seeking fertile farmlands and game, discovered the area and settled Southwick. It became a farming community, defined as the Southern (South-) village (-wick) part of the town of Westfield, Massachusetts. Early on, it was nicknamed "Poverty Plains" because the land was thought to be infertile. Its first residential home was built by Samuel Fowler and his wife Naomi Noble on what is now College Highway (US 202 and MA 10), about a quarter mile north of the current town center.
In colonial times, church attendance was mandatory. The 800 Christian residents of Southwick in the 1760–70s were required to travel to Westfield to congregate. Only by establishing their own church community could they establish their own parish, as they desired. On November 7, 1770, Southwick was incorporated as a separate district of Westfield. The area of Southwick became somewhat smaller in 1770. The southernmost portion of Southwick joined Suffield, Connecticut, as the result of a simultaneous secession of citizens in that part of the village.
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