How to Pick the Right CDL Training School near Unity Maine
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Unity ME. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps 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 essential to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Unity residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal way to ensure you’ll get the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder 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 Unity ME, an operator needs to attain 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 topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 CDL 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Unity ME truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are several additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Unity ME area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Unity ME schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Maine licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Maine and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Unity ME schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although 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 crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide lots of 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Unity ME schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Unity ME 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 permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Maine, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Maine testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Unity ME school you select 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 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 Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Unity ME employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Unity ME area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Unity ME?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Unity Maine area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Unity is a town in Waldo County, Maine, United States. The population was 2,099 at the 2010 census. The town is the service center for the northern portion of Waldo County. Outside of Waldo county, it is best known as the home of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, its Common Ground Country Fair and Unity College. Unity College was founded in 1965 to offset the economic effects of the declining chicken farming industry. As of 2007, the college is the town's largest employer.
When originally settled by Quakers, the town was known as Twenty-Five Mile Pond Plantation. The name came from its being located on a pond twenty-five miles from Fort Halifax in Winslow. The name was changed to Unity upon incorporation as a town in 1804. In 1898, the Village School was opened. It remained in operation until 1953 when it closed and a new elementary school was built.
In 1996, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) purchased 200 acres of land in Unity, where it is now based. The MOFGA-run Common Ground Country Fair moved with the organization and annually brings more than 50,000 visitors to the town.
Truck Driver Training Unity ME
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local 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 vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Truck Driver Training. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Unity ME.
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