How to Select a CDL Driving School near Southport Connecticut
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Southport CT. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Southport residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best method to make certain you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Connecticut and within the United States, a driver must get 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 near Southport CT, 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 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. 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 might also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Southport CT truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Southport CT truck driver schools are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure 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 best of Southport CT schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Connecticut licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Connecticut and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, 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 personalized attention 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 drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Southport CT schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the Southport CT school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide lots of 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 operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Southport CT schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain Southport CT truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Connecticut, find out if the Southport CT schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Connecticut testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Southport CT 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 certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession in Southport CT. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted in Southport CT.
Why Did You Want to Be a Truck Driver?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's helpful to review questions you may be asked. One of the questions that recruiters often ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to choose trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not only the private reasons you might have for becoming a truck driver, but also what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you must ready some ideas about how you want to address them. Given that there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an excellent truck driver and the leading candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down several concepts and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
Choose the Best CDL School Southport CT
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional 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 choose an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Southport CT.
A Bit About Southport Connecticut
Southport is a former borough in the town of Fairfield, Connecticut, and also a census-designated place. It is located along Long Island Sound between Mill River and Sasco Brook, where it borders Westport. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 1,585. Settled in 1639, Southport center has been designated a local historic district since 1967, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 as the Southport Historic District.
The earliest recorded event in Southport's history was "The Great Swamp Fight" or "Fairfield Swamp Fight" of July 1637 (not to be confused with the later Great Swamp Fight of King Philip's War), an episode of the Pequot War in which English colonial forces led by John Mason and Roger Ludlow vanquished a band of about 80 to 100 Pequot Indians who had earlier fled from their home territory in the Mystic area and had taken refuge with about 200 Sasqua Indians who inhabited the area that is now Fairfield. The exact location of the battle is not known, but it is known to have been in the vicinity of Southport.
In the eighteenth century, Mill River village, a part of Fairfield, was a small hamlet of a few houses and a wharf at the mouth of Fairfield's Mill River. Farm products from the surrounding area were shipped from Mill River's small harbor to ports in New York and beyond.
By 1831 the village had changed its name to Southport and was a bustling commercial area with warehouses, churches, schools, stores and elegant houses. Before 1853, Southport had its own local government as a borough within the town of Fairfield. Southport became a leading coastal port on Long Island Sound, its ships carrying produce and goods back and forth to New York City. A measure of Southport's success is the fact that throughout the 1800s it possessed the only two banks in town. However, competition from steamboats and the railroad took its toll on prosperity. Resourceful shippers teamed with local farmers and businessmen to keep the port going; the Southport onion, a high quality onion, was developed and grown on Fairfield's hills and shipped in Southport market boats, keeping the harbor profitable until the end of the century. In the 1890s, 100,000 barrels of locally grown onions, carrots, potatoes, and other goods were shipped annually from Southport harbor.
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