How to Choose the Right Truck Driver Classes near West Stockbridge Massachusetts
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near West Stockbridge MA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your West Stockbridge home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to make certain you’ll obtain the right education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That 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 commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and West Stockbridge MA, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class 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). Following are brief explanations of 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. A few of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive 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 operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the West Stockbridge MA truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the West Stockbridge MA area are accredited because of the rigorous 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 a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top West Stockbridge MA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out 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 maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Massachusetts licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Massachusetts and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most West Stockbridge MA schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with 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.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the West Stockbridge MA schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous 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 be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the West Stockbridge MA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Massachusetts, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Massachusetts testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the West Stockbridge MA school you choose provides 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 prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few West Stockbridge MA employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other West Stockbridge 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Commercial Truck Driving Schools West Stockbridge Massachusetts
Picking the right trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Commercial Truck Driving Schools and wanting information on the topic Dump Truck Training. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want 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 firm of your choice, or one of several 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 a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in West Stockbridge MA.
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West Stockbridge, Massachusetts
West Stockbridge was first settled in 1766 and was officially incorporated in 1774. The town grew out of Stockbridge, formerly known as Indiantown, and was originally called Queensborough. The area was part of the disputed border between Massachusetts and New York, which eventually left the town in its current state. The town grew as five separate villages (West Center, West Stockbridge, Freedleyville, Rockdale and Williamsville), with West Stockbridge growing the largest because of the railroad, which hauled iron ore and marble. The town had an ironworks in Williamsville, founded by Colonel Elijah Williams, and the furnace smokestack is the only part which remains of the works.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 18.7 square miles (48.4 km2), of which 18.5 square miles (47.8 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 1.23%, is water.
West Stockbridge is bordered on the north by Richmond, on the east by Stockbridge, on the south by Great Barrington, on the southwest by Alford, and on the west by Austerlitz and Canaan, New York. West Stockbridge is 11 miles (18 km) south-southwest of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 50 miles (80 km) west-northwest of Springfield, 132 miles (212 km) west of Boston, and 36 miles (58 km) southeast of Albany, New York.
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