How to Select a Truck Driver School near Santa Clara California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Santa Clara CA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Santa Clara home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll get the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Santa Clara CA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses 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 driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 may also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Santa Clara CA truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Santa Clara CA area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Santa Clara CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the California licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion 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 particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Santa Clara CA schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type 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 drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish plenty of 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Santa Clara CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of 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. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Santa Clara CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Santa Clara CA school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating 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 poor job placement rate or few Santa Clara CA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Santa Clara CA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Santa Clara CA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Santa Clara California area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Santa Clara, California
Santa Clara (/ˌsæntəˈklærə/) is a city in Santa Clara County, California. The city's population was 116,468 as of the 2010 United States Census, making it the ninth-most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area. Located 45 miles (72 km) southeast of San Francisco, the city was founded in 1777 with the establishment of Mission Santa Clara de Asís, the eighth of 21 California missions. The city was later incorporated in 1852. The mission, the city, and the county are all named for Saint Clare of Assisi.
Santa Clara is located in the center of Silicon Valley and is home to the headquarters of several high-tech companies such as Intel. It is also home to Santa Clara University, the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of California, which was built around Mission Santa Clara de Asís.Levi's Stadium, the home of the National Football League's San Francisco 49ers, is located in the city. Santa Clara is bordered by San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Cupertino.
The first European to visit the valley was José Francisco Ortega in 1769. He found the area inhabited by Native Americans, whom the Spanish called the Costanos, "coast people", later known as the Ohlone. The Spanish began to colonize California with 21 missions and the Mission Santa Clara de Asis was founded in 1777.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driver School Santa Clara CA
Choosing the right truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning 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 several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Santa Clara CA.
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CDL training can get you ready to work in a high-demand industry for major players or smaller, local and regional employers. Classroom time will prepare you for what you’ll need to know to sit for your CDL license exam , while time behind the wheel gives you practical know-how.
Section 1: Introduction - California
Out-of-State CDL Skills Test Results. If you have a California CLP and have completed your CDL training and CDL skills test (vehicle inspection, basic control skills, and road test) in another state, the results will be sent electronically from the state you were tested in to the California DMV.
Cost of CDL Training at California Truck Driving Schools
California is home to numerous trucking schools that provide CDL training. These CDL schools are primarily categorized into three types, public, private and company sponsored CDL schools. Public schools that provide truck driver training in California usually do not ask for high fees.
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California Commercial Driver's License Education | DMV.ORG
If you plan on driving public transit vehicles (e.g. city buses) then you MUST enroll in CDL training courses. If not, then you aren't required by the state to take commercial driver's education. Public Transit Drivers. In California, the DMV only requires commercial driver education for people applying to drive public transit vehicles.
CDL Training Classes in California (54 Trucking Schools ...
These schools have CA CDL Class A tractor trailer training that takes as little as 3-6 weeks. Bus, tanker truck training programs, endorsements classes and some of the best trade school programs are availabel at some locations too. Get job placement assistance after passing your CDL training classes if you qualify. There are no all-online California CDL classes but some schools do have part-online training programs.