How to Choose a CDL Training School near Berkeley California
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Berkeley CA. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Berkeley home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal 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 objective in mind, just how do you select 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 Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in California and within the USA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Berkeley CA, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type 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 of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Berkeley CA truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are several additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Berkeley CA trucking schools are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required 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. For example, PTDI requires 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked 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 Berkeley CA schools had to start 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 relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with 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 hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Berkeley CA schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the Berkeley CA school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide lots 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Berkeley CA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from some Berkeley CA truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly 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 be sure to inquire if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the Berkeley CA schools you are reviewing 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 moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Berkeley CA school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession in Berkeley CA. Confirm that the schools you are looking at 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 firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed in Berkeley CA.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Tractor Trailer Operator?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's advantageous to consider questions you could be asked. One of the questions that hiring managers frequently ask truck driving applicants is "What compelled you to pick trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the personal reasons you might have for becoming a trucking operator, but additionally what qualities and abilities you have that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, along with a significant number of standard interview questions, so you must ready some approaches about how you want to answer them. Because there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but take down some ideas and topics that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
Choose the Right CDL School Berkeley CA
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm 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 joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Berkeley CA.
A Bit About Berkeley California
Berkeley (/ˈbɜːrkli/ BURK-lee) is a city on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in northern Alameda County, California. It is named after the 18th-century Irish bishop and philosopher George Berkeley. It borders the cities of Oakland and Emeryville to the south and the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington to the north. Its eastern border with Contra Costa County generally follows the ridge of the Berkeley Hills. The 2010 census recorded a population of 112,580.
Berkeley is home to the oldest campus in the University of California system, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is managed and operated by the University. It also has the Graduate Theological Union, one of the largest religious studies institutions in the world. Berkeley is one of the most socially liberal cities in the United States.
The site of today's City of Berkeley was the territory of the Chochenyo/Huchiun band of the Ohlone people when the first Europeans arrived. Evidence of their existence in the area include pits in rock formations, which they used to grind acorns, and a shellmound, now mostly leveled and covered up, along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay at the mouth of Strawberry Creek. Other artifacts were discovered in the 1950s in the downtown area during remodeling of a commercial building, near the upper course of the creek.
The first people of European descent (most of whom were of mixed race and born in America) arrived with the De Anza Expedition in 1776. Today, this is noted by signage on Interstate 80, which runs along the San Francisco Bay shoreline of Berkeley. The De Anza Expedition led to establishment of the Spanish Presidio of San Francisco at the entrance to San Francisco Bay (the Golden Gate). Luis Peralta was among the soldiers at the Presidio. For his services to the King of Spain, he was granted a vast stretch of land on the east shore of San Francisco Bay (the contra costa, "opposite shore") for a ranch, including that portion that now comprises the City of Berkeley.
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