How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Shelton Connecticut
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Shelton CT. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Shelton home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you’ll obtain the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Shelton CT, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 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. A few 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 drive certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Shelton CT truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Shelton CT area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Shelton CT schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Connecticut licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, 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 segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Shelton CT schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will furnish sufficient 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative 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 between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Shelton CT schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Shelton CT schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Connecticut, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Connecticut testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Shelton CT school you choose 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 willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Make sure 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 firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Shelton CT employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Shelton CT area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Shelton CT?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Shelton Connecticut area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Shelton was settled by the English as part of the town of Stratford, Connecticut, in 1639. On May 15, 1656, the Court of the Colony of Connecticut in Hartford affirmed that the town of Stratford included all of the territory 12 miles (19 km) inland from Long Island Sound, between the Housatonic River and the Fairfield town line. In 1662, Stratford selectmen Lt. Joseph Judson, Captain Joseph Hawley and John Minor had secured all the written deeds of transfer from the Golden Hill Paugussett Indian Nation for this vast territory that comprises the present-day towns of Trumbull, Shelton and Monroe. Shelton was split off from Stratford in 1789, as Huntington (named for Samuel Huntington). The current name originated in a manufacturing village started in the 1860s named for the Shelton Company founded by Edward N. Shelton—also founder of Ousatonic Water Power Company. The rapidly growing borough of Shelton incorporated as a city in 1915 and was consolidated with the town of Huntington in 1919 establishing the present city of Shelton.
Shelton was the site of one of the largest arson fires in the United States history. It happened in 1975 when the Sponge Rubber Products plant (formerly owned by B.F. Goodrich) was set on fire. Charles Moeller, president of parent company Grand Sheet Metal Products, was acquitted on arson charges, but in a civil lawsuit, a jury in 1988 ruled the insurer did not have to pay claims on the fire because a preponderance of evidence showed the company's top officials arranged the fire to claim insurance money. Eight others were convicted or pleaded guilty.
The explosion that destroyed the Sponge Rubber Plant on Canal Street in 1975 marked the start of the decline of Shelton's industries. During the remainder of the 1970s and 1980s several firms that operated factories along the banks of the Housatonic River either went out of business or relocated to areas where labor and operating costs were cheaper. In 1995, Sikorsky Aircraft closed a plant off Bridgeport Avenue that manufactured electrical components for helicopters.
Pick the Right Truck Driving School Shelton CT
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker 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 in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Shelton CT.
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