How to Choose the Best Trucking Classes near Belmont California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Belmont CA. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Belmont residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to make certain you'll get the right training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills 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? 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 commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Belmont CA, an operator must obtain 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 subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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. Some 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 kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Belmont CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Belmont CA area are accredited because of the rigorous 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Belmont CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Belmont CA schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative 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 requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide 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 necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Belmont CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver 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 having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Belmont CA schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in California, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Belmont CA school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Belmont CA employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Belmont CA area technical or vocational 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 a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Select the Right Belmont CA CDL Training
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills 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. However, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Belmont CA.