How to Choose a Truck Driver School near Pelham New Hampshire
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Pelham NH. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Pelham home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the optimal means to ensure you’ll receive the right training. Don’t forget, 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 purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Pelham NH, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss 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). Following are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 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 operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Pelham NH truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Pelham NH area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided 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 quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 measure up to 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 rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Pelham NH schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. 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 receiving the individual attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Pelham NH schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. 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 vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no substitute 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 fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Pelham NH schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Pelham NH schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in New Hampshire, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at New Hampshire testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Pelham NH school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an 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 are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Pelham NH employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Pelham NH area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing 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 Pelham NH?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Pelham New Hampshire area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Pelham, New Hampshire
Pelham was split from Old Dunstable in 1741, when the border between Massachusetts and New Hampshire was settled. It was incorporated in 1746. The town is named after Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 26.9 square miles (69.8 km2), of which 26.4 square miles (68.3 km2) are land and 0.58 square miles (1.5 km2), or 2.09%, are water. The highest point in Pelham is Jeremy Hill, at 577 feet (176 m) above sea level.
The town contains the southernmost point in the state of New Hampshire, at 42°41′49″N 71°17′40″W / 42.69694°N 71.29444°W / 42.69694; -71.29444, a location known as the "Old Boundary Pine", named for a pine tree that marked the difference in definition of the northern boundary of Massachusetts. This point is 3 miles (5 km) due north of Pawtucket Falls in Lowell, and marks the point where the straight-line border to the west meets the 3-mile buffer defined by the Merrimack River.
Pick the Ideal Trucking School Pelham NH
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation 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 many options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Pelham NH.
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