How to Select the Right Trucker Classes near Benicia California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Benicia CA. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you'll want to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Benicia residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal means to make certain you'll receive the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Benicia CA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 brief descriptions for 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 more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 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 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 drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Benicia CA truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Benicia CA area are accredited due to the rigorous 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Benicia CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking 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 teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction 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 professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Benicia CA schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide 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 driving 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 receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark 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 Benicia CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, 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 limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Benicia CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. 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 competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Benicia CA school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out 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 poor job placement rate or few Benicia CA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Benicia CA area vocational or trade 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 least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Best Benicia CA Truck Driver Training
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm 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 joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Benicia CA.