How to Pick the Right Truck Driving School near Southport Connecticut
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Southport CT. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Southport home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll obtain the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal 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 talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Southport CT, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver 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 brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate 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 operate 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 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 might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Southport CT truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are a few more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Southport CT area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost 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 obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Southport CT schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Connecticut licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering 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 trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Southport CT schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide sufficient 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators 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 become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Southport CT schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Southport CT schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Connecticut, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Connecticut testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Southport CT school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Southport CT employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Southport CT area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Southport CT?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Southport Connecticut area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Southport is a former borough in the town of Fairfield, Connecticut, and also a census-designated place. It is located along Long Island Sound between Mill River and Sasco Brook, where it borders Westport. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 1,585. Settled in 1639, Southport center has been designated a local historic district since 1967, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 as the Southport Historic District.
The earliest recorded event in Southport's history was "The Great Swamp Fight" or "Fairfield Swamp Fight" of July 1637 (not to be confused with the later Great Swamp Fight of King Philip's War), an episode of the Pequot War in which English colonial forces led by John Mason and Roger Ludlow vanquished a band of about 80 to 100 Pequot Indians who had earlier fled from their home territory in the Mystic area and had taken refuge with about 200 Sasqua Indians who inhabited the area that is now Fairfield. The exact location of the battle is not known, but it is known to have been in the vicinity of Southport.
In the eighteenth century, Mill River village, a part of Fairfield, was a small hamlet of a few houses and a wharf at the mouth of Fairfield's Mill River. Farm products from the surrounding area were shipped from Mill River's small harbor to ports in New York and beyond.
CDL Training Southport CT
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Training. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Southport CT.
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