How to Choose a Truck Driver School near Waterford Connecticut
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Waterford CT. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper 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 prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Waterford home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Waterford CT, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply 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 discuss 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 short explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 more 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Waterford CT truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are several additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Waterford CT 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Waterford CT schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Connecticut licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Connecticut and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next 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 getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly 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 be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Waterford CT schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide ample 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Waterford CT schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Waterford CT schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Connecticut, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Connecticut testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Waterford CT school you choose provides 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 teacher should be prepared to dedicate 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Waterford CT employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Waterford CT 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 evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Waterford CT?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Waterford Connecticut area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Waterford is a town in New London County, Connecticut, United States. It is named after Waterford, Ireland. The population was 19,517 at the 2010 census.  The town center is listed as a census-designated place (CDP) and had a population of 2,887 at the 2010 census.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 44.6 square miles (115.4 km2), of which 32.8 square miles (84.9 km2) is land and 11.8 square miles (30.5 km2), or 26.43%, is water. The town center CDP has a total area of 1.9 square miles (4.9 km2), all land. Waterford is bordered on the west by the Niantic River.
Other minor communities and geographic features are Dufree Hill, East Neck, Fog Plain, Gilead, Goshen, Great Neck, Harrisons, Lake's Pond, Logger Hill, Mago Point, Magonk, Mullen Hill, Oswegatchie, Pepperbox Road, Pleasure Beach, Ridgewood Park, Riverside Beach, Spithead, Strand, West Neck.
Pick the Best CDL School Waterford CT
Picking the right truck driver school is an essential 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 mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to consider 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 truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Waterford CT.
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