How to Find a CDL Training School near Watrous New Mexico
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Watrous NM. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Watrous residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll get the proper 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 objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Watrous NM, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 CDL is needed 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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. A few 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 might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Watrous NM truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Watrous NM area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will fulfill 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 business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Watrous NM schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the New Mexico licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in New Mexico and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Watrous NM schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some 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 great truck driver school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable 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 Watrous NM schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted 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 called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of 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 less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Watrous NM schools you are looking at are independent or captive 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 truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in New Mexico, 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 of competing schools for test times at New Mexico testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Watrous NM school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Watrous NM employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Watrous NM area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Watrous NM?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Watrous New Mexico area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Watrous (La Junta)
Watrous, also named La Junta, is a National Historic Landmark District near Watrous, New Mexico. It encompasses the historic junction point of the two major branches of the Santa Fe Trail, a major 19th-century frontier settlement route between St. Louis, Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. La Junta, marked this junction point, as well as the first major indications of civilization before westbound travelers reached Santa Fe. The district includes a large area west of the modern community of Watrous, encompassing the confluence of the Mora and Sapello Rivers. Surviving buildings include the houses of early ranchers, as well as a stagecoach mailstop and inn. The district was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963.
The Santa Fe Trail was one of the major routes by which the American West was settled. It had two major branches: the Mountain Branch, which skirted north of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and crossed southward at Raton Pass, and the Cimarron Cutoff, which ran a more direct route south of mountains but across desert that was also populated by hostile Native Americans. These two routes came together to the west of the confluence of the Mora and Sapello Rivers, which is just north of present-day Watrous. The Santa Fe Trail remained in use until the 1870s, when it was supplanted by Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, whose route roughly follows the Cimarron Cutoff route. The railroad established the present-day community of Watrous east of the trail junction, after which the small community there was largely abandoned.
The community at the trail junction was known as La Junta ("the junction" in Spanish), Tiptonville, or Watrous, the latter two based on the names of two early ranchers in the area, Samuel Watrous and William Tipton. There are 21 surviving structures or foundational remains in the district, most of which were built before 1870. Important surviving structures include the ranch house and store of Samuel Watrous (now on the Watrous Valley Ranch), a similar building belonging to William Tipton, and the rancho house of William Koenig. The Koenig House, built in the 1860s on what is now known as the Phoenix Ranch, is one of the state's finest examples of Territorial architecture. There are also three small cemeteries, and the remains of three structures associated with a horse corral managed by Fort Union.
Pick the Best Truck Driver School Watrous NM
Selecting the right truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to think about 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 truck driving 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 decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Watrous NM.
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