How to Decide on a Truck Driving School near North Smithfield Rhode Island
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near North Smithfield RI. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road 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 pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your North Smithfield home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you’ll get the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and North Smithfield RI, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight 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). Below are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 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. Some 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 drive certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the North Smithfield RI truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the North Smithfield RI area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top North Smithfield RI schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Rhode Island licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Rhode Island and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most North Smithfield RI schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the North Smithfield RI schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of 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 surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the North Smithfield RI schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Rhode Island, ask 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 Rhode Island testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the North Smithfield RI school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio 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 low job placement rate or few North Smithfield RI employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other North Smithfield RI 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near North Smithfield RI?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the North Smithfield Rhode Island area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
North Smithfield, Rhode Island
North Smithfield is a town in Providence County, Rhode Island, United States, settled as a farming community in 1666 and incorporated into its present form in 1871. North Smithfield includes the historic villages of Forestdale, Primrose, Waterford, Branch Village, Union Village, Park Square, and Slatersville. The population was 12,314 at the 2015 census.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 24.7 square miles (64 km2), of which 24.0 square miles (62 km2) is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2) (2.83%) is water. North Smithfield is in a New England upland region. The Branch River and Blackstone Rivers provided much of the power for the early mills in the town. The town consists mainly of temperate forests, with minor elevation changes. Residents can expect mild summers and harsh winters.
In the 17th century British colonists settled in North Smithfield developing a farming community that they named after Smithfield, London in England. The town was part of Smithfield, Rhode Island until it was incorporated as North Smithfield in 1871. The first colonization occurred after a Native American, "William Minnian, (or Quashawannamut) of Punkkupage" (present day Canton, MA) of Massachusetts Bay on May 14, 1666, deeded approximately 2,000 acres" to John Mowry and Edward Inman who partnered with Nathaniel Mowry, John Steere, and Thomas Walling in dividing up the purchased tract. In the early 18th century, a Quaker colony developed in what is now North Smithfield (then Smithfield), which extended into south Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
Choose the Right Truck Driving School North Smithfield RI
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving 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 choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in North Smithfield RI.
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