How to Select the Right Truck Driver School near Stratford Connecticut
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Stratford CT. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Stratford home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That 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 commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Stratford CT, an operator must 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 topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 drive certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Stratford CT truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Stratford CT area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense 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 certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty 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 program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Stratford CT schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Connecticut licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Connecticut and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Stratford CT schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish ample driving time to its students. After all, 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 substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Stratford CT schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Stratford CT schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Connecticut, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Connecticut testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Stratford CT 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 prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Stratford CT employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Stratford CT area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Stratford CT?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Stratford Connecticut area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Stratford is a town in Fairfield County, Connecticut, United States. It is situated on Long Island Sound along Connecticut's "Gold Coast" at the mouth of the Housatonic River. Stratford is in the Bridgeport–Stamford–Norwalk Metropolitan Statistical Area. It was founded by Puritans in 1639.
The population was 51,384 as of the 2010 census. It is bordered on the west by Bridgeport, to the north by Trumbull and Shelton, and on the east by Milford (across the Housatonic River). Stratford has a historical legacy in aviation, the military, and theater.
Stratford was founded in 1639 by Puritan leader Reverend Adam Blakeman, William Beardsley, and either 16 families (according to legend) or approximately 35 families (suggested by later research) who had recently arrived in Connecticut from England seeking religious freedom. In 1639 the General Court in Hartford made reference to the town as the "new plantation at Pequannock". In 1640 the community was known as Cupheag, a Native American Paugussett word meaning "at the enclosed place" or "place of shelter". By April 13, 1643, the growing town was known as Stratford, changed to honor William Shakespeare's birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon in England.
CDL Class Stratford CT
Choosing 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 forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Class. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash 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 CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Stratford CT.
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