How to Find a Truck Driver School near Westford New York
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Westford NY. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Westford home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Westford NY, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person 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 highlight Class A and 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). Below are short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 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 drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school 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 Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Westford NY truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Westford NY area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Westford NY schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the New York licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in New York and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Westford NY schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide lots 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Westford NY schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Westford NY schools you are contemplating 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 permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in New York, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at New York testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Westford NY school you choose provides 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 spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Westford NY employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Westford NY area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Westford NY?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Westford New York area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Project West Ford
Project West Ford (also known as Westford Needles and Project Needles) was a test carried out by Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory on behalf of the United States Military in 1961 and 1963 to create an artificial ionosphere above the Earth. This was done to solve a major weakness that had been identified in US military communications.
At the height of the Cold War, all international communications were either sent through undersea cables or bounced off the natural ionosphere. The United States Military was concerned that the Soviets might cut those cables, forcing the unpredictable ionosphere to be the only means of communication with overseas forces. So, a ring of 480,000,000copper dipole antennas (1.78 cm long needles, 25.4μm  / 17.8μm  in diameter) was placed in orbit to facilitate global radio communication. The length was chosen because it was half the wavelength of the 8 GHz signal used in the study. The dipoles collectively provided passive support to Project Westford's parabolic dish (located in the town of Westford) to communicate with distant sites. In 1958, at MIT’s Lincoln Lab, Walter E. Morrow started Project Needles.
A failed first attempt launched on October 21, 1961; the needles failed to disperse. The project was eventually successful with the May 9, 1963 launch, with radio transmissions carried by the man-made ring. However, the technology was ultimately shelved, partially due to the development of the modern communications satellite and partially due to protests from other scientists. The needles were placed in medium Earth orbit between 3,500 and 3,800 kilometres (2,200–2,400 mi) high at 96 and 87 degree inclinations and contributed to Earth's orbital debris. British radio astronomers, together with optical astronomers and the Royal Astronomical Society, protested this action. The Soviet newspaper Pravda also joined the protests under the headline "U.S.A. Dirties Space". The issue was raised in the United Nations where then US Ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson defended the project. Stevenson studied the published journal articles on Project West Ford. Using what he learned on the subject and citing the articles he had read, he successfully allayed the fears exhibited by the vast majority of UN ambassadors from other countries. He and the articles explained that sunlight pressure would cause the dipoles to only remain in orbit for a short period of approximately three years. The international protest ultimately resulted in a consultation provision included in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Fifty years later in 2013, some of the dipoles that did not deploy correctly still remain in clumps which make up a small amount of the orbital debris tracked by NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driving School Westford NY
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge 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 fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Westford NY.
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