How to Pick a Truck Driver School near Narragansett Rhode Island
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Narragansett RI. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Narragansett home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to ensure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Narragansett RI, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify 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 Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 short descriptions for the two 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 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 kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Narragansett RI truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are some additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Narragansett RI area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed 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 Narragansett RI 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 relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Rhode Island licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Rhode Island and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly 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 be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Narragansett RI schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates 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 Narragansett RI schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Narragansett RI schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Rhode Island, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Rhode Island testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Narragansett RI school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure 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, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Narragansett RI employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Narragansett RI area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing 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 Narragansett RI?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Narragansett Rhode Island area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Narragansett, Rhode Island
Narragansett is a town in Washington County, Rhode Island, United States. The population was 15,868 at the 2010 census. However, during the summer months the town's population more than doubles to near 34,000. The town is colloquially known as "Gansett". The town of Narragansett occupies a narrow strip of land running along the eastern bank of the Pettaquamscutt River to the shore of Narragansett Bay. It was separated from South Kingstown in 1888, and incorporated as a town in 1901.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 37.8 square miles (98 km2), of which, 14.1 square miles (37 km2) of it is land and 23.6 square miles (61 km2) of it (62.56%) is water.
The following villages and neighborhoods are wholly or partially located in Narragansett: Saunderstown (shared with North Kingstown), South Ferry, Bonnet Shores, Narragansett Pier, Point Judith, Galilee, Great Island, Salt Pond, Mettatuxet, and Jerusalem (shared with South Kingstown).
Select the Right Truck Driver School Narragansett RI
Selecting the right truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need 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 trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Narragansett RI.
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