How to Choose a Truck Driving School near Sykesville Maryland
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Sykesville MD. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Sykesville home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to make certain you’ll receive the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Sykesville MD, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Sykesville MD truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Sykesville MD area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Sykesville MD schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Maryland licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Maryland and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher 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 concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Sykesville MD schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. 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.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a good standard 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 Sykesville MD schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Sykesville MD 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 third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted 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 battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Maryland testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Sykesville MD school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Sykesville MD employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Sykesville MD area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Sykesville MD?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Sykesville Maryland area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Sykesville is a small town in Carroll County, Maryland, United States. The town lies 20 miles west of Baltimore and 40 Miles north of Washington D.C. The population was 4,436 at the 2010 census. BudgetTravel.com named Sykesville, MD 'Coolest Small Town in America' in June 2016.
The land on which Sykesville sits started out as part of the 3,000-acre (12 km2) Springfield Estate, owned by wealthy Baltimore shipbuilder William Patterson. In 1803, Patterson's daughter Elizabeth, married Napoléon Bonaparte's younger brother Jérôme, but when she arrived in Europe as Jérôme's bride, Napoléon refused to let Betsy Patterson Bonaparte set foot on land. Napoléon refused the marriage of the two, and would not let Elizabeth set foot on France's soil. He was determined that Jerome marry into royalty, and sent Betsy back home. Denied by Napoléon, she was never able to see her husband again, leaving her to raise their son alone in the United States. Upon the death of William in 1824, his son George Patterson inherited the estate. In 1825, George Patterson sold 1,000 acres (4.0 km2; 1.6 sq mi) of Springfield Estate to his friend and business associate, James Sykes.
A tract of land on the Howard County side of the Patapsco River contained an old saw and grist mill. In 1830 Sykes replaced it with a newer mill and constructed a five-story stone hotel, to take care of railroad personnel and the tourist trade. In 1831 the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) extended its main line to "Horse Train Stop", since Sykesville had yet to be named. Other businesses moved into the area, including two general stores, new mills, churches and a post office. In 1832 the town managed to gain control of a barn across the Patapsco River, the dividing line between Carroll and Howard County, but the citizens were forced to return the barn under threat of federal troops.
Pick the Right CDL School Sykesville MD
Selecting the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Sykesville MD.
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