How to Select the Right Truck Driver School near Walkersville Maryland
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Walkersville MD. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Walkersville residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to make sure you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Walkersville MD, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss 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). Following are short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Walkersville MD truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are a few more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Walkersville MD area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense 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 required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Walkersville MD schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Maryland licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Maryland and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Walkersville MD schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish lots of 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Walkersville MD schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified 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 relationships with many different 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 freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Walkersville MD schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Maryland, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Maryland testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Walkersville MD school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Walkersville MD employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Walkersville MD 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 evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Walkersville MD?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Walkersville Maryland area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 4.36 square miles (11.29 km2), of which, 4.35 square miles (11.27 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.
The median income for a household in the town was $65,581, and the median income for a family was $69,476. Males had a median income of $47,309 versus $31,817 for females. The per capita income for the town was $24,103. About 2.1% of families and 2.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.3% of those under age 18 and 4.0% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2010, there were 5,800 people, 2,094 households, and 1,583 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,333.3 inhabitants per square mile (514.8/km2). There were 2,206 housing units at an average density of 507.1 per square mile (195.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 88.0% White, 5.2% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.4% Asian, 1.5% from other races, and 2.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.1% of the population.
CDL Truck School Walkersville MD
Choosing the right truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Truck School. However, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Walkersville MD.
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