How to Choose the Right Trucker School near Watertown Massachusetts
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Watertown MA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Watertown residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Watertown MA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 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 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Watertown MA truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Watertown MA area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Watertown MA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. 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 researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Massachusetts and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Watertown MA schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark 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 Watertown MA schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Watertown MA schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Massachusetts, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Massachusetts testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Watertown MA school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. 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 are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Watertown MA employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Watertown MA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
The Best Truck Driving Schools Watertown Massachusetts
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in The Best Truck Driving Schools and wanting information on the topic How To Get Your CDL License. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Watertown MA.
Truck On in These Other Massachusetts Locations
Watertown is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and is part of the Greater Boston area. The population was 31,915 in the 2010 census. Its neighborhoods include Bemis, Coolidge Square, East Watertown, Watertown Square, and the West End. It is one of thirteen Massachusetts municipalities that retain the title of “town” while functioning under state law as cities.
Watertown was one of the first Massachusetts Bay Colony settlements organized by English Puritans in 1630. The city is home to the Perkins School for the Blind, the Armenian Library and Museum of America, and the historic Watertown Arsenal, which produced military armaments from 1816 through World War II.
Archeological evidence suggests that Watertown was inhabited for thousands of years before the arrival of settlers from England. Two tribes of Massachusett, the Pequossette and the Nonantum, had settlements on the banks of the river later called the Charles. The Pequossette built a fishing weir to trap herring at the site of the current Watertown Dam. The annual fish migration, as both alewife and blueback herring swim upstream from their adult home in the sea to spawn in the fresh water where they were hatched, still occurs every spring.
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