How to Select a Truck Driver School near Trenton New Jersey
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Trenton NJ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Trenton home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll get the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Trenton NJ, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 required 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. 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Trenton NJ trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you should 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 Trenton NJ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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 know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks 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 business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Trenton NJ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several 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 stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the New Jersey licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in New Jersey and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers 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 getting the personalized instruction 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Trenton NJ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. 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 good truck driver school will furnish plenty of 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Trenton NJ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement 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 maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Trenton NJ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in New Jersey, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at New Jersey testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Trenton NJ school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit 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 fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Trenton NJ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Trenton NJ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Trenton NJ?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Trenton New Jersey area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Trenton, New Jersey
Trenton is the capital city of the U.S. state of New Jersey and the county seat of Mercer County. It was briefly the capital of the United States. The city's metropolitan area is grouped with the New York metropolitan area by the United States Census Bureau, but directly borders the Philadelphia metropolitan area and is part of the Philadelphia Combined Statistical Area and the Federal Communications Commission's Philadelphia Designated Market Area. As of the 2010 United States Census, Trenton had a population of 84,913, making it the state's 10th-most-populous municipality. The Census Bureau estimated that the city's population was 84,034 in 2014.
Trenton dates back at least to June 3, 1719, when mention was made of a constable being appointed for Trenton, while the area was still part of Hunterdon County. Boundaries were recorded for Trenton Township as of March 2, 1720, a courthouse and jail were constructed in Trenton around 1720 and the Freeholders of Hunterdon County met annually in Trenton. Trenton became New Jersey's capital as of November 25, 1790, and the City of Trenton was formed within Trenton Township on November 13, 1792. Trenton Township was incorporated as one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 townships by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 21, 1798. On February 22, 1834, portions of Trenton Township were taken to form Ewing Township. The remaining portion of Trenton Township was absorbed by the City of Trenton on April 10, 1837. A series of annexations took place over a 50-year period, with the city absorbing South Trenton borough (April 14, 1851), portions of Nottingham Township (April 14, 1856), both the Borough of Chambersburg Township and Millham Township (both on March 30, 1888), as well as Wilbur Borough (February 28, 1898). Portions of Ewing Township and Hamilton Township were annexed to Trenton on March 23, 1900.
The first settlement which would become Trenton was established by Quakers in 1679, in the region then called the Falls of the Delaware, led by Mahlon Stacy from Handsworth, Sheffield, England. Quakers were being persecuted in England at this time and North America provided an opportunity to exercise their religious freedom.
Select the Right Truck Driver School Trenton NJ
Choosing the right truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new profession 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 critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might 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 choose an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Trenton NJ.
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