How to Find a Truck Driving School near Fort Shafter Hawaii
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Fort Shafter HI. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Fort Shafter residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best method to make certain you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your objective 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 objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss 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?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Fort Shafter HI, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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 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 certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Fort Shafter HI truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are some additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Fort Shafter HI area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Fort Shafter HI schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Hawaii licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Hawaii and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding 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 comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Fort Shafter HI schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish plenty 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 tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary 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 Fort Shafter HI schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Fort Shafter HI 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 allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Hawaii, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Hawaii testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Fort Shafter HI school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Fort Shafter HI employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Fort Shafter HI 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 least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Fort Shafter HI?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Fort Shafter Hawaii area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Fort Shafter is in Honolulu CDP,City and County of Honolulu, Hawai‘i, extending up the interfluve (ridgeline) between Kalihi and Moanalua valleys, as well as onto the coastal plain (as Shafter Flats) at Māpunapuna. Fort Shafter is the headquarters of the United States Army Pacific, commanding most Army forces in the Asia-Pacific region with the exception of Korea. A portion of the area is also known as the Palm Circle Historic District and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and has been further designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark. It is also known as Palm Circle or 100 Area. Palm Circle covers an underground command center.
Fort Shafter has been home to the senior Army headquarters in Hawaii for a century. Construction began in 1905 on the ahupua'a of Kahauiki, former Hawaiian crown lands that were ceded to the United States government after annexation. When the post opened in 1907, it was named for Major General William Rufus Shafter (1835–1906), who led the United States expedition to Cuba in 1898.
Palm Circle was laid out as a cantonment for an infantry battalion. The barracks and officers' quarters were arranged around a parade field ringed by Royal Palms. The 2d Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment was the first unit stationed at the new post.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Fort Shafter HI
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even 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 choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Fort Shafter HI.
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