How to Decide on the Right Truck Driver School near Strafford New Hampshire
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Strafford NH. Maybe 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 wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Strafford home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal means to make sure you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional 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 balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Strafford NH, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify 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 address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 needed 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Strafford NH trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Strafford NH area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Strafford NH schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the New Hampshire licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in New Hampshire and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Strafford NH schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide plenty of 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual 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 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 Strafford NH schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Strafford NH schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in New Hampshire, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at New Hampshire testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Strafford NH school you select offers 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 teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage 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 poor job placement rate or not many Strafford NH employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Strafford NH area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Strafford NH?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Strafford New Hampshire area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Strafford County, New Hampshire
Strafford County is a county in the U.S. state of New Hampshire. As of the 2010 census, the population was 123,143. Its county seat is Dover. Strafford County was one of the five original counties identified for New Hampshire in 1769. It was named after William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford in the mistaken belief that he was the ancestor of governor John Wentworth – although they were distantly related, William had no descendants. The county was organized at Dover in 1771. In 1840, the size of the original county was reduced with the creation of Belknap County. Strafford County constitutes a portion of the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as of the greater Boston-Worcester-Providence, MA-RI-NH-CT Combined Statistical Area.
Strafford County is in southeastern New Hampshire, separated from York County in the state of Maine by the Salmon Falls River. The southern part of the Salmon Falls, from Rollinsford to Dover, is a tidal river that flows into the Piscataqua River.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 384 square miles (990 km2), of which 369 square miles (960 km2) is land and 15 square miles (39 km2) (3.9%) is water. It is the smallest county in New Hampshire by area.
Class B CDL School Strafford NH
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Class B CDL School. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Strafford NH.
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