How to Choose the Right CDL Driving School near Thomaston Maine
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Thomaston ME. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Thomaston residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal way to ensure you’ll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That 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 eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Thomaston ME, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on 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 brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Thomaston ME truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are some more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Thomaston ME area are accredited because of 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Thomaston ME schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history 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 companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Maine licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Maine and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal instruction 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Thomaston ME schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques 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 a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Thomaston ME schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Thomaston ME schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Maine, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Maine testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Thomaston ME school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Thomaston ME employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Thomaston ME area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Thomaston ME?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Thomaston Maine area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Thomaston (formerly known as Fort St. Georges, Fort Wharf, Lincoln) is a town in Knox County, Maine, United States. The population was 2,781 at the 2010 census. Noted for its antique architecture, Thomaston is an old port popular with tourists.
As early as 1630, a trading post was established on the eastern bank of the St. George River, then considered the boundary between New England and New France. In 1704, Thomas LeFebvre from Quebec bought a large tract of land along the Weskeag River on which he built a gristmill, with a house on the shoreline at what is now South Thomaston. The area became known as Thomas' Town. In 1719–1720, the old trading post was remodeled into Fort St. George, a stockaded fort protected by two blockhouses. But Abenaki Indian tribes protested the encroachment of an English fort on their territory. Instigated by the French, they attacked the garrison twice during Dummer's War in 1722, then again in 1723 with a siege lasting 30 days. In response to this and other provocations, soldiers destroyed the Abenaki stronghold of Norridgewock in 1724.
During the French and Indian War, to avenge for the fall of Louisbourg, on August 13, 1758 French officer Boishebert left Miramichi, New Brunswick with 400 soldiers for Fort St George (Thomaston, Maine). His detachment reached there on September 9 but was caught in an ambush and had to withdraw. This was Boishébert's last Acadian expedition. They then went on to raid Friendship, Maine, where people were killed and others taken prisoner. Hostilities of the French and Indian Wars ceased with the 1759 Fall of Quebec.
Commercial Drivers License Classes Thomaston ME
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an essential 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 mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Commercial Drivers License Classes. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Thomaston ME.
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