How to Find the Right Trucking School near Belmont California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Belmont CA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever 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 a number of factors that you'll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Belmont residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Belmont CA, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses 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, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 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. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucker School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Belmont CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Belmont CA area 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. Prospective 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 calls for 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Belmont CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's history is relating to 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 firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the California licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Belmont CA 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 Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Belmont CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Belmont CA schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Belmont CA school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote 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 commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Belmont CA employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Belmont CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Belmont CA CDL Driver Training
Picking the right truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to think about 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 select an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, 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 entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Belmont CA.