How to Decide on a Trucking School near Spencerville Maryland
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Spencerville MD. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Spencerville residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to make sure you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge 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 pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Spencerville MD, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and 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). Below are short descriptions for the two 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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. 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 need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Spencerville MD trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are some more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Spencerville MD area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Spencerville MD schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Maryland licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Maryland and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly 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 period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Spencerville MD schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the instructors 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 a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to 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 happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide sufficient 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 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 instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Spencerville MD schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. 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 work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Spencerville MD schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide 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 Maryland, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Maryland testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Spencerville MD school you enroll in offers 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 devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Spencerville MD employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Spencerville MD area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Spencerville MD?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Spencerville Maryland area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Maryland Route 198
Maryland Route 198 (MD 198) is a state highway in the U.S. state of Maryland. The highway runs 14.14 miles (22.76 km) from MD 650 near Spencerville east to the entrance of Fort George G. Meade beyond its junction with MD 32. MD 198 connects Laurel in far northern Prince George's County with the northeastern Montgomery County communities of Spencerville and Burtonsville and Maryland City and Fort Meade in western Anne Arundel County. The highway is a four-to-six-lane divided highway between U.S. Route 29 (US 29) in Burtonsville and the Baltimore–Washington Parkway in Maryland City.
MD 198 was constructed from US 1 in Laurel west toward Burtonsville in the early 1920s and completed in the late 1920s. Another section was built in Spencerville in the late 1920s; the two segments were connected in the mid-1950s. The Laurel–Fort Meade road was built as MD 602 for military access purposes in the mid-1940s, replacing the original highway between the two locations, MD 216. MD 198 was relocated through Laurel and extended east along MD 602 to Fort Meade in the early 1960s. The first divided highway portion of the highway was part of a relocation at the Interstate 95 (I-95) interchange in the early 1970s. The divided highway was extended west to Burtonsville in the mid-1980s and through Maryland City in the late 1980s. MD 198's eastern end was extended to MD 32 in the early 1990s and then moved again for its interchange with that highway in the early 2000s. The Maryland State Highway Administration (MDSHA) plans to expand the remaining two-lane portions of MD 198 to a divided highway.
MD 198 begins at a four-legged intersection with MD 650 (New Hampshire Avenue) west of Spencerville. The west leg of the intersection is county-maintained Norbeck Road, which leads west to MD 28. MD 198 heads east as two-lane Spencerville Road through an intersection with Good Hope Road and passes through the village of Spencerville. At the western edge of Burtonsville, the highway expands to a four-lane undivided highway and has a three-way intersection with Old Columbia Pike and takes on that name. MD 198 expands to a six-lane divided highway just west of its three-quarter diamond interchange with US 29 (Columbia Pike). Access from southbound US 29 to MD 198 is provided via Columbia Pike, a bypassed segment of US 29 that intersects MD 198 opposite the ramp from MD 198 to southbound US 29.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driver School Spencerville MD
Selecting the right trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance 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 critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated 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 our country move as a professional truck driver in Spencerville MD.
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