How to Enroll in the Best Trucker Classes near Belmont California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Belmont CA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Belmont home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to make certain you'll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Belmont CA, an operator must get 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 choose a truck driver school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 needed 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. A few 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Belmont CA trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Belmont CA area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided 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 caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, 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 Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Belmont CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the California licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning 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 an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Belmont CA schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers 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 be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Belmont CA schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with numerous 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out 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 grads. If onsite testing is permitted in California, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Belmont CA school you choose 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 prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Belmont CA employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Belmont CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Select the Best Belmont CA Truck Driving Training
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an essential 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 mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to look into 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 trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Belmont CA.