How to Choose a CDL Training School near Stockton Maryland
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Stockton MD. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Stockton home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best way to make sure you’ll receive the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Stockton MD, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type 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 summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 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 more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several of the vehicles that operators may be qualified to drive 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Stockton MD truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Stockton MD area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training 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 ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Stockton MD schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Maryland licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Maryland and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention 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 professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Stockton MD schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary between 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. Check with the Stockton MD schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular 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 relationships with many different 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 have an opportunity. 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 Stockton MD schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Maryland, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Maryland testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Stockton MD school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing 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 Placement Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Stockton MD employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Stockton MD area vocational or trade 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 get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Stockton MD?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Stockton Maryland area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Stockton is a census-designated place (CDP) in Worcester County, Maryland, United States. The population was 143 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Salisbury, Maryland-Delaware Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Stockton, originally called Sandy Hill, grew up at the crossing of the post road from Snow Hill south to Virginia (whose track is generally followed by modern Maryland Route 12) with the road from Mattapony Landing on the Pocomoke River to the Chincoteague Bay (the eastern part of which is now Maryland Route 366), where small ocean-going vessels could drop anchor. The landing on Chincoteague Bay came to be known as George Island Landing. Settlement in the area began in the 1660s, when the area was still part of Somerset County. Worcester County was separated from Somerset in 1742, and by 1774 Sandy Hill had grown large enough to merit a chapel of ease within All Hallows' Parish, today called Holy Cross Chapel. Sandy Hill, unlike neighboring Girdletree, was never incorporated, but in 1870 the name of the town was officially changed, by act of the legislature, from Sandy Hill to Stockton, commemorating the Rev. Thomas H. Stockton, a prominent Methodist minister. In 1872 the Worcester County election district which took its name from Sandy Hill was renamed Stockton.
In 1876, a railroad (which would eventually become part of the Pennsylvania Railroad) was laid from Franklin City and Greenbackville in Virginia to Snow Hill. The line's main purpose was to haul seafood harvested from the Atlantic Ocean and Chincoteague Bay to Philadelphia, but the line also carried passengers. To avoid confusion with other Stocktons around the country, the station at Stockton was named Hursley Station.
Select the Ideal Truck Driver School Stockton MD
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even 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 affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Stockton MD.
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