How to Pick the Best Trucking School near Westminster Massachusetts
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Westminster MA. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Westminster home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you’ll obtain the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Westminster MA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver 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 focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 drive 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 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 require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Westminster MA truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Westminster MA area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Westminster 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 regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Massachusetts licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Massachusetts and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Westminster MA schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several 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 vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent 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 necessary training tools, they are no substitute 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 between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Westminster MA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Westminster MA schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third 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 offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Massachusetts testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Westminster MA school you select offers 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 instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Westminster MA employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Westminster MA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Truck Driving Schools Near Me Westminster Massachusetts
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many 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 Truck Driving Schools Near Me and wanting information on the topic How To Get A CDL Class A. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Westminster MA.
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The town achieved national news in November 2014 when the Board of Health proposed banning all sales of tobacco. The meeting between the Board of Health and concerned citizens did not go well with citizens raising objections to the governmental over-reach.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 37.3 square miles (97 km2), of which 35.5 square miles (92 km2) is land and 1.8 square miles (4.7 km2), or 4.90%, is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 6,907 people, 2,529 households, and 1,954 families residing in the town. The population density was 194.5 people per square mile (75.1/km²). There were 2,694 housing units at an average density of 75.9 per square mile (29.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.50% White, 0.46% African American, 0.14% Native American, 1.14% Asian, 0.14% from other races, and 0.61% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.11% of the population. 17.6% were of French, 15.0% Irish, 13.2% French Canadian, 9.0% English, 9.0% Italian, 8.5% Finnish and 5.6% American ancestry according to Census 2000.
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