How to Pick a Trucking School near Silver Spring Maryland
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Silver Spring MD. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Silver Spring residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, 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 cover 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 Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Maryland and within the USA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three 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 select a truck driver school near Silver Spring MD, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Silver Spring MD truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Silver Spring MD trucking schools are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Silver Spring MD schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Maryland licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Maryland and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Silver Spring MD schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the Silver Spring MD school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish ample 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies among 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 Silver Spring MD schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from a number of Silver Spring MD truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out 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 some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Maryland, ask if the Silver Spring MD schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Maryland testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Silver Spring MD school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career in Silver Spring MD. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted in Silver Spring MD.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Tractor Trailer Operator?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's helpful to consider questions you could be asked. One of the questions that recruiters frequently ask truck driving candidates is "What drove you to select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a trucker, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you must organize several strategies about how you would like to address them. Given that there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the talents you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the leading candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down several concepts and talking points that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Select the Ideal Truck Driving School Silver Spring MD
Picking the right truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving 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 many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Silver Spring MD.
A Bit About Silver Spring Maryland
Silver Spring, Maryland
Silver Spring is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) located inside the Capital Beltway in Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. It had a population of 76,716 according to 2013 estimates by the United States Census Bureau, making it the fourth most populous place in Maryland, after Baltimore, Columbia, and Germantown. Silver Spring consists of the following neighborhoods: Downtown Silver Spring, East Silver Spring, Woodside, Woodside Park, North Hills Sligo Park, Long Branch, Montgomery Knolls, Franklin Knolls, Indian Spring Terrace, Indian Spring Village, Clifton Park Village, New Hampshire Estates, and Oakview.
The urbanized, oldest, and southernmost part of Silver Spring is a major business hub that lies at the north apex of Washington, D.C. As of 2004, the Central Business District (CBD) held 7,254,729 square feet (673,986 m2) of office space, 5216 dwelling units and 17.6 acres (71,000 m2) of parkland. The population density of this CBD area of Silver Spring was 15,600 per square mile all within 360 acres (1.5 km2) and approximately 2.5 square miles (6 km2) in the CBD/downtown area. The community has recently undergone a significant renaissance, with the addition of major retail, residential, and office developments.
Silver Spring takes its name from a mica-flecked spring discovered there in 1840 by Francis Preston Blair, who subsequently bought much of the surrounding land. Acorn Park, tucked away in an area of south Silver Spring away from the main downtown area, is believed to be the site of the original spring.
As an unincorporated area, Silver Spring's boundaries are not officially defined. As of the 2010 Census the United States Census Bureau defines Silver Spring as a census-designated place with a total area of 7.92 square miles (20.5 km2), all land; however, it does contain numerous creeks and small lakes. This definition is a 15% reduction from the 9.4 sq. mi. used in previous years. The United States Geological Survey locates the center of Silver Spring at 38°59′26″N 77°1′35″W / 38.99056°N 77.02639°W / 38.99056; -77.02639, notably some distance from the Census Bureau's datum. By another definition, Silver Spring is located at 39°0′15″N 77°1′8″W / 39.00417°N 77.01889°W / 39.00417; -77.01889 (39.004242, -77.019004). The definitions used by the Silver Spring Urban Planning District, the United States Postal Service, the Greater Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce, etc., are all different, each defining it for its own purposes.
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