How to Decide on a CDL Driving School near Pittsfield New Hampshire
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Pittsfield NH. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Pittsfield residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to make certain you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address 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 Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Pittsfield NH, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class 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). Below are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Pittsfield NH truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Pittsfield NH area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Pittsfield NH schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the New Hampshire licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in New Hampshire and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Pittsfield NH schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking 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 necessary 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. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Pittsfield NH schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Pittsfield NH schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in New Hampshire, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at New Hampshire testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Pittsfield NH school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an 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 are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Pittsfield NH employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Pittsfield NH area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Pittsfield NH?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Pittsfield New Hampshire area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Pittsfield, New Hampshire
The central village in town, where 1,576 people resided at the 2010 census, is defined as the Pittsfield census-designated place (CDP), and is located on the Suncook River near the junction of New Hampshire routes 28 and 107.
For many years prior to its 1782 incorporation, this town was an unnamed parish of Chichester. Like Pittsburg in the north, Pittsfield was named for William Pitt, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and a great friend of the Colonies prior to the American Revolution. The town was settled in 1768 by several families originally from Hampton. Founder John Cram built grist and sawmills here in the late 18th century. Since 1901, Globe Manufacturing has made protective clothing for firefighters here.
The town claimed the Guinness World Record in July 2001 as the place where the most people wore Groucho Marx glasses at the same time (522). Before Pittsfield's attempt, no other town had tried to set the record.
Select the Ideal Truck Driving School Pittsfield NH
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Pittsfield NH.
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