How to Choose the Right Truck Driving School near West Point New York
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near West Point NY. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your West Point home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you’ll get the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover 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 Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and West Point NY, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 might also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of researching the West Point NY truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the West Point NY area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top West Point NY schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the New York licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in New York and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most West Point NY schools provide training courses 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 Instructors? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method 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 ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary between 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 West Point NY schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the West Point NY schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in New York, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at New York testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the West Point NY school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. 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 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 Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few West Point NY employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other West Point NY area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near West Point NY?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the West Point New York area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
West Point, New York
West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in the United States. Located on the Hudson River in New York, West Point was identified by General George Washington as the most important strategic position in America during the American Revolution. Until January 1778, West Point was not occupied by the military. On January 27, 1778, Brigadier General Samuel Holden Parsons and his brigade crossed the ice on the Hudson River and climbed to the plain on West Point to intercept Lt. Major Roldan Kramer and from that day to the present, West Point has been occupied by the United States Army. It comprises approximately 16,000 acres (6,500 ha) including the campus of the United States Military Academy, which is commonly called "West Point".
It is a Census Designated Place (CDP) located in the Town of Highlands in Orange County, New York, located on the western bank of the Hudson River. The population was 6,763 at the 2010 census. It is part of the New York–Newark–Jersey City, NY–NJ–PA Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New York–Newark, NY–NJ–CT–PA Combined Statistical Area.
West Point (then Fort Clinton), was a fortified site during the Revolutionary War. Originally picked because of the abnormal S-curve in the Hudson River at this point, the defenses of West Point were designed by Polish military engineer Tadeusz Kościuszko, who served as a brigadier general in the Continental Army.
Truck Driving Courses West Point NY
Selecting the right truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available 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 Truck Driving Courses. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash 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 select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in West Point NY.
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