How to Decide on a CDL Driving School near Watertown Massachusetts
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Watertown MA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Watertown residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll obtain the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Massachusetts and within the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school near Watertown MA, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 needed to drive 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 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 might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Watertown MA trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Watertown MA truck driver schools are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Watertown MA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Massachusetts licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Massachusetts and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Watertown MA schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the Watertown MA school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Watertown MA schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from certain Watertown MA trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified 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 maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Massachusetts, ask if the Watertown MA schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Massachusetts testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the Watertown MA school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession in Watertown MA. Confirm 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, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed in Watertown MA.
Why Did You Want to Become a Truck Driver?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's helpful to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that recruiters often ask truck driving candidates is "What made you choose trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the private reasons you may have for becoming a truck driver, but additionally what characteristics and skills you possess that make you good at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to trucking, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should organize some strategies about how you want to address them. Since there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can address this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the perfiect candidate for the position. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down some ideas and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
Pick the Ideal Trucking School Watertown MA
Choosing the right truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Watertown MA.
A Bit About Watertown Massachusetts
The Town of Watertown is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. It is part of the Greater Boston area. The population was 31,915 at the 2010 census. Watertown is one of fourteen Massachusetts municipalities that have applied for, and been granted, city forms of government but wish to retain "The town of" in their official names.
Archeological evidence suggests that Watertown was inhabited for thousands of years before the arrival of settlers from England. Two tribes of Massachusett, the Pequossette and the Nonantum, had settlements on the banks of the river later called the Charles. The Pequossette built a fishing weir to trap herring at the site of the current Watertown Dam. The annual fish migration, as both alewife and blueback herring swim upstream from their adult home in the sea to spawn in the fresh water where they were hatched, still occurs every spring.
Watertown, first known to settlers as Saltonstall Plantation, was one of the earliest of the Massachusetts Bay Colony settlements. Founded in early 1630 by a group of settlers led by Richard Saltonstall and George Phillips, it was officially incorporated that same year. The alternate spelling "Waterton" is seen in some early documents.
The first buildings were upon land now included within the limits of Cambridge known as Gerry's Landing. For its first quarter century Watertown ranked next to Boston in population and area. Since then its limits have been greatly reduced. Thrice portions have been added to Cambridge, and it has contributed territory to form the new towns of Weston (1712), Waltham (1738), Lincoln (1754) and Belmont (1859). In 1632 the residents of Watertown protested against being compelled to pay a tax for the erection of a stockade fort at Cambridge; this was the first protest in America against taxation without representation and led to the establishment of representative democracy in the colony. As early as the close of the 17th century, Watertown was the chief horse and cattle market in New England and was known for its fertile gardens and fine estates. Here about 1632 was erected the first gristmill in the colony, and in 1662 one of the first woolen mills in America was built here.
More Cities of Interest in Massachusetts