How to Decide on a CDL Driving School near Downieville California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Downieville CA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Downieville residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to make sure you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your goal 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 goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Downieville CA, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose 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 together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations for 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 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 needed to drive 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Downieville CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Downieville CA area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly 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 top Downieville CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, 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 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Downieville CA schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential 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 a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, 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 completing the training and find out 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 provide plenty of driving time to its students. After all, 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential 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 become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Downieville CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Downieville CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Downieville CA school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Downieville CA employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Downieville CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Downieville CA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Downieville California area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Downieville is a census-designated place in and the county seat of Sierra County, California, United States. Downieville is on the North Fork of the Yuba River, at an elevation of 2,966 feet (904 m). The 2010 United States census reported Downieville's population was 282.
Downieville was founded in late 1849 during the California Gold Rush, in the Northern Mines area. It was first known as "The Forks" for its geographical location at the confluence of the Downie River and North Fork of the Yuba River.
It was soon renamed after Major William Downie (1820-1893), the town's founder. Downie was a Scotsman who had led an expedition of nine miners, seven of them African American men, up the North Fork of the Yuba River in the Autumn of 1849. At the present site of the town they struck rich gold, built a log cabin, and settled in to wait out the winter. By 1850, Downieville already had 15 hotels, 4 bakeries, 4 butcher shops, and numerous saloons.
Select the Right Truck Driving School Downieville CA
Picking the right trucking school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to think about 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 truck driving 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 decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Downieville CA.
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