How to Find a Trucking School near Wilton Maine
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Wilton ME. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Wilton home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Wilton ME, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address 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). Following are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 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 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Wilton ME truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. 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 things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Wilton ME area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Wilton ME schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Maine licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Maine and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. 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 getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Wilton ME 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 Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor 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. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she 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 furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Wilton ME schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations 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 giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Wilton ME schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking 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 accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Maine testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Wilton ME school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Wilton ME employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Wilton ME area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Wilton ME?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Wilton Maine area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
The land replaced an invalidated 1727 grant by Massachusetts to veterans for service in the French and Indian Wars. The first grant (now part of Manchester, New Hampshire) was originally dubbed Harrytown after a particularly dangerous Native American, then renamed Tyngstown for Captain William Tyng, leader of the expedition of "snowshoe men" that killed him in 1703. Abraham Butterfield, a settler from Wilton, New Hampshire, paid the cost of incorporation in 1803 to have the new town named after his former residence.
Wilton is known for being the location of Maine's first cotton mill, started in 1810 by Solomon Adams. In 1876, George Henry Bass (1855–1925) founded G.H. Bass & Co. and became the best-known businessman in Wilton's history. Bass shoes (including those worn by Charles Lindbergh during his Atlantic crossing and Admiral Byrd in his expeditions to Antarctica) were made exclusively in Wilton for more than a century until 1998. By then the Bass family had sold out, and in 1998 Bass' parent company, Phillips-Van Heusen, moved operations overseas.
John Russell Bass (b. 1878), son of G. H. Bass, was treasurer for the firm and served as Maine delegate to the Republican national convention in 1920, 1944 and 1952. The company built much of its success on the Bass penny weejun, introduced in 1936 and said to be based on Norwegian fisherman's shoes. The style was an instant hit, and became a staple on college campuses across the nation. The shoe was later renamed the Leavitt penny weejun; it is no longer made in Wilton.
Select the Best Trucking School Wilton ME
Selecting the appropriate trucking 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 available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to consider 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 driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Wilton ME.
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