How to Find a CDL Training School near Westfield New York
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Westfield NY. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Westfield home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll obtain the proper training. Just remember, 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 target 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 rest 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 Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Westfield NY, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and 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). Below are short explanations of 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. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License 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 specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Westfield NY truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Westfield NY area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Westfield NY schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the New York licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in New York and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual 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 insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Westfield NY schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will furnish 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students 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. Although driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Westfield NY schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Westfield NY schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in New York, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at New York testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Westfield NY 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 willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Westfield NY employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Westfield NY area technical or vocational 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 least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Westfield NY?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Westfield New York area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Westfield, New York
Westfield is a town in the western part Chautauqua County, New York, United States. The population was 4,896 at the 2010 census.Westfield is also the name of a village within the town, containing 65% of the town's population.
The area was first settled in 1802 by James McMahan, formerly of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. McMahan established a mill near the mouth of Chautauqua Creek, where it empties into Lake Erie. The mill was later dismantled in advance of the War of 1812 to prevent it falling into the hands of the British. Today some of the millstones from McMahan's mill rest outside the Patterson Library in Westfield village.
The Barcelona Lighthouse was constructed in 1829 to overlook Barcelona Harbor and aided sailors on Lake Erie until being deactivated in 1859. It was the first lighthouse in the world to be powered by natural gas.
Pick the Best CDL School Westfield NY
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to beginning 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 offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Westfield NY.
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