How to Choose a Truck Driving School near White Sands Missile Range New Mexico
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near White Sands Missile Range NM. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your White Sands Missile Range home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll receive the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and White Sands Missile Range NM, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 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. Some 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 need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the White Sands Missile Range NM trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, such as 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 performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the White Sands Missile Range NM area are accredited due to 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of White Sands Missile Range NM schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the New Mexico licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in New Mexico and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of White Sands Missile Range NM schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide ample 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 essential training methods, they are no replacement 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 can vary among schools, a good 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 White Sands Missile Range NM schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the White Sands Missile Range NM schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd 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 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 Mexico testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the White Sands Missile Range NM school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out 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 referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few White Sands Missile Range NM employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other White Sands Missile Range NM area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near White Sands Missile Range NM?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the White Sands Missile Range New Mexico area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
White Sands Missile Range
White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) is a United States Army military testing area of almost 3,200 sq mi (8,300 km2) in parts of five counties in southern New Mexico. The largest military installation in the United States, WSMR and the 600,000-acre (2,400 km2) McGregor Range Complex at Fort Bliss to the south (southeast Tularosa Basin and on Otero Mesa) are contiguous areas for military testing. On 9 July 1945, the White Sands Proving Ground was established for testing German and American long range rockets. Just seven days later, the first atomic bomb test, code named Trinity was exploded at Trinity Site, near the north boundary of the range.
The White Sands Test Center headquartered at the WSMR "Post Area" has branches for Manned Tactical Systems & Electromagnetic Radiation and conducts missile testing and range recovery operations. Other operations on WSMR land include:
Pick the Best Truck Driver School White Sands Missile Range NM
Selecting the right truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might 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 enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in White Sands Missile Range NM.
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