How to Pick the Best CDL Training School near West Springfield Massachusetts
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near West Springfield MA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever 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 certain factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your West Springfield home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll receive the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and West Springfield MA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify 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 address Class A and Class 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). Below are short descriptions for the two 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 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the West Springfield MA trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are several additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the West Springfield MA area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top West Springfield MA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Massachusetts licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Massachusetts and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, 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 watch out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of West Springfield MA schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide lots 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the West Springfield MA schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the West Springfield MA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Massachusetts, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Massachusetts testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the West Springfield MA school you select offers 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 teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement 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 lower job placement rate or not many West Springfield MA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other West Springfield MA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Local Truck Driving Schools West Springfield Massachusetts
Choosing the right truck driver school is an important first step to launching 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 offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Local Truck Driving Schools and wanting information on the topic Cheap CDL Training. However, you must get the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to think about 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 trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in West Springfield MA.
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West Springfield, Massachusetts
West Springfield is a city in Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Springfield, Massachusetts Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 28,391 at the 2010 census. The city is also known as "West Side", in reference to the fact that it is on the western side of the Connecticut River from Springfield, a fact which played a major part in the town's early history.
In paraphrase, from the official town history book: The area that became known as West Springfield was settled in 1635. The settlers fled to higher ground on the east side of the river and founded Springfield in the aftermath of the great hurricane of 1635. West Springfield was good farm land, so some families did stay on the west side.
Other than the trade in beaver skins, economic activity in early colonial Springfield consisted largely of subsistence farming and animal husbandry, with barter being the preferred medium of exchange for neighbors' crops, and locally produced goods. Gristmills and saw mills were also present in the early settlement.
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