How to Choose a CDL Training School near Totowa New Jersey
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Totowa NJ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Totowa home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to ensure you’ll obtain the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Totowa NJ, a driver needs to attain 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. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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. Several 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Totowa NJ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed 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 several additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Totowa NJ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Totowa NJ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the New Jersey licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in New Jersey and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next 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 individual 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 be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Totowa NJ schools offer training courses 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 Teachers? As already stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Totowa NJ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Totowa NJ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in New Jersey, find out 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 from competing schools for test times at New Jersey testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Totowa NJ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend 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 Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates 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 few Totowa NJ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Totowa NJ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Totowa NJ?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Totowa New Jersey area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Totowa, New Jersey
Totowa (pronounced "TO-tuh-wuh"/ˈtoʊtəwə/) is a borough in Passaic County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 10,844, reflecting an increase of 912 (+9.2%) from the 9,892 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 285 (-2.8%) from the 10,177 counted in the 1990 Census.
The name of Totowa comes from the Native American name for the Great Falls of the Passaic River in nearby Paterson, and literally means "sinking or falling water," or "between mountains and water."
In 1696, George Willocks, a Scottish land speculator, purchased a tract of land known as Willock's Patent, which included most of modern-day Totowa, Woodland Park (formerly West Paterson) and Little Falls. Located in the western part of Manchester Township, Willock's Patent was resold to Anthony Brockholls and the Van Houten family. The land was retitled the "Totowa Patent," and divided into three parcels, and more land was acquired through the "Garret Mountain Purchase".
Select the Best CDL School Totowa NJ
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Totowa NJ.
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