How to Select the Right Trucker School near Takoma Park Maryland
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Takoma Park MD. 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 an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Takoma Park home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll receive the right education. Don’t forget, your objective 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 pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Takoma Park MD, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 required to drive 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 kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Takoma Park MD truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as 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 need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Takoma Park MD area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required 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 receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Takoma Park MD schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Maryland licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Maryland and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following 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 personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Takoma Park MD schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some 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.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real 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 alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. 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 provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Takoma Park MD schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. 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 refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Takoma Park MD schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Maryland, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Maryland testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Takoma Park MD school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Takoma Park MD employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Takoma Park MD area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Takoma Park MD?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Takoma Park Maryland area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Takoma Park, Maryland
Takoma Park is a city in Montgomery County, Maryland. It is a suburb of Washington, D.C., and part of the Washington metropolitan area. Founded in 1883 and incorporated in 1890, Takoma Park, informally called "Azalea City", is a Tree City USA and a nuclear-free zone. A planned commuter suburb, it is situated along the Metropolitan Branch of the historic Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, just northeast of Washington, D.C., and it shares a border and history with the adjacent neighborhood of Takoma, Washington, D.C. It is governed by an elected mayor and six elected councilmembers, who form the city council, and an appointed city manager, under a council-manager style of government. The city's population was 16,715 at the 2010 national census.
Since 2013, residents of Takoma Park can vote in municipal elections when they turn sixteen. It was the first city in the United States to extend voting rights to 16- and 17-year-olds in city elections. Since then, the City of Hyattsville has done the same.
Takoma Park was founded by Benjamin Franklin Gilbert in 1883. It was one of the first planned Victorian commuter suburbs,  centered on the B&O railroad station in Takoma, D.C., and bore aspects of a spa and trolley park.
CDL Classes Cost Takoma Park MD
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local 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. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Classes Cost. However, you must get the proper 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 firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Takoma Park MD.
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