How to Find a Truck Driver School near Strafford New Hampshire
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Strafford NH. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Strafford home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll get the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional 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 cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully in New Hampshire and within the United States, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near Strafford NH, we will address Class A and 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 brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Strafford NH truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Strafford NH truck driver schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, 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. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Strafford NH schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is relating to 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 companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the New Hampshire licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in New Hampshire and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Strafford NH schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the Strafford NH school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish lots 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Strafford NH schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from certain Strafford NH trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in New Hampshire, find out if the Strafford NH schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at New Hampshire testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Strafford NH school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession in Strafford NH. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed in Strafford NH.
Why Did You Want to Become a Trucker?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to reflect on questions you could be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers typically ask truck driving candidates is "What made you choose trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a trucking operator, but additionally what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should ready some ideas about how you would like to answer them. Since there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the abilities you possess that make you an exceptional truck driver and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but write down several ideas and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Pick the Right CDL School Strafford NH
Selecting the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills 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 critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to consider 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 school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several 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 our country move as a professional trucker in Strafford NH.
A Bit About Strafford New Hampshire
Strafford County, New Hampshire
Strafford County is a county in the U.S. state of New Hampshire. As of the 2010 census, the population was 123,143. Its county seat is Dover. Strafford County was one of the five original counties identified for New Hampshire in 1769. It was named after William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford in the mistaken belief that he was the ancestor of governor John Wentworth. Although they were distantly related, William had no descendants.
The county was organized at Dover in 1771. In 1840 the original size of the county was reduced with the creation of Belknap County.
Strafford County is included in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Strafford County is in southeastern New Hampshire, separated from York County in the state of Maine by the Salmon Falls River. The southern part of the Salmon Falls, from Rollinsford to Dover, is a tidal river that flows into the Piscataqua River.
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