How to Choose the Best Truck Driving Classes near Wilbraham Massachusetts
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Wilbraham MA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Wilbraham home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll receive the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover 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 CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Wilbraham MA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and 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). Below are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Wilbraham MA truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Wilbraham MA area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Wilbraham MA schools had to start 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 pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms 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 verify that the CDL trucking 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 experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. 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 personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Wilbraham MA schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among 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. Contact the Wilbraham MA schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different 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 freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Wilbraham MA schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Massachusetts, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Massachusetts testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Wilbraham MA school you enroll in 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 commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job 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? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio 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 poor job placement rate or few Wilbraham MA employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Wilbraham MA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
CDL Training Classes Wilbraham Massachusetts
Choosing the right truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Training Classes and wanting information on the topic How To Get CDL Class B License. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Wilbraham MA.
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Wilbraham is a town in Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. It is a suburb of the City of Springfield, and part of the Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 14,868 at the 2010 census.
Wilbraham was originally divided between North Wilbraham and Wilbraham. North Wilbraham was home to the industrial side of the town, along with the Boston & Albany Railroad Line, which is still in use today. Wilbraham was home to the Wilbraham & Monson Academy.
Wilbraham is made up of several neighborhoods, known as Wilbraham Center, North Wilbraham, East Wilbraham, Wilbraham Mountain, South Wilbraham, Boston Road Corridor and the Pines Section. In 1878, the south end of Wilbraham officially broke away from Wilbraham and formed the Town of Hampden. The term North Wilbraham is now rarely used by town residents and has been replaced by Wilbraham.
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