How to Pick a Trucking School near Saco Montana
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Saco MT. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Saco home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick 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 Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Saco MT, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes 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 driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 more 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Saco MT trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Saco MT area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several 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 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Saco MT 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 history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Montana licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Montana and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal 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 professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Saco MT schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s important 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 criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide lots 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Saco MT schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Saco MT schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Montana, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Montana testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Saco MT school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask 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 employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Saco MT employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Saco MT 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 evaluating 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 Saco MT?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Saco Montana area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Faced with the task of naming hundreds of station stops along the High Line, Great Northern Railway officials resorted to "globe trotting." According to one story, an official spun a globe and put his finger on Saco, Maine, thus giving the town its name. Another story tells that the name is a contraction of "Sacajawea." For two years, Saco boasted the Guinness world record for making the world's largest hamburger, building the 6,040-pound burger from the beef of 17 cattle in 1999.
As of the census of 2010, there were 197 people, 102 households, and 47 families residing in the town. The population density was 597.0 inhabitants per square mile (230.5/km2). There were 127 housing units at an average density of 384.8 per square mile (148.6/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 94.4% White, 1.0% Asian, and 4.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.5% of the population.
There were 102 households of which 24.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.2% were married couples living together, 4.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 2.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 53.9% were non-families. 47.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 23.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.93 and the average family size was 2.83.
Pick the Best CDL School Saco MT
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Saco MT.
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