How to Choose a Truck Driving School Hopatcong New Jersey
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Hopatcong NJ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Hopatcong residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to make certain you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Hopatcong NJ, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply 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 highlight 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). Following are short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed 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. 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Hopatcong NJ trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are several more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Hopatcong NJ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Hopatcong NJ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the New Jersey licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in New Jersey and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. 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 personal instruction 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 professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Hopatcong NJ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the 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 satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates among 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. Check with the Hopatcong NJ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from some 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 rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Hopatcong NJ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in New Jersey, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at New Jersey testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Hopatcong NJ school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Hopatcong NJ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Hopatcong NJ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Hopatcong NJ?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Hopatcong New Jersey area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Hopatcong, New Jersey
Hopatcong (/hoʊpætkɒŋ/) is a borough in Sussex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 15,147, reflecting a decline of 741 (-4.7%) from the 15,888 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 302 (+1.9%) from the 15,586 counted in the 1990 Census.
The town of Hopatcong has a rich history, given its relationship with New York City. It borders Lake Hopatcong, a partially man-made lake that is now a source of much recreation and desirable real estate, and is the biggest lake in New Jersey. The community, 40 miles (64 km) west of New York City, began as a summer getaway for the wealthy in NYC who primarily sought access to the lake. An amusement park, called "Bertrand's Island", sprang up and was accessible via the lake, trolley or by car through Mount Arlington. The construction of Interstate 80, a highway that stretches from Teaneck, New Jersey, all the way across the country to San Francisco, California, triggered rapid growth in New York City's suburbs and led to Hopatcong becoming a permanent residential community.
The area had been called "Brookland" in the 19th century and the lake that was expanded to become Lake Hopatcong had been known as "Great Pond" or "Brookland Pond". During the 1830s, the name of the community had been modified to "Brooklyn", to match the spelling of the city on New York's Long Island. Hopatcong was originally established as the Town of Brooklyn on April 2, 1898, from portions of Byram Township. On March 22, 1901, the Borough of Hopatcong replaced Brooklyn. In 1922, residents of Byram Cove, Northwood, and other areas to the west of the original land area of the borough, voted to leave Byram Township and join Hopatcong, leaving the Borough with its current borders.
Choose the Right CDL School Hopatcong NJ
Choosing the right trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might 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 choose an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Hopatcong NJ.
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