How to Choose a Truck Driver School near Durham California
Best wishes on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Durham CA. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Durham residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you’ll receive 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 select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully in California and within the United States, an operator must attain 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 topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school near Durham CA, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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. 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 need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Durham CA truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Durham CA truck driver schools are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Durham CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the California licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. 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 instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Durham CA schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the Durham CA school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will provide ample 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Durham CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from some Durham CA truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit 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 reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in California, find out if the Durham CA schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Durham CA school you choose provides 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 prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession in Durham CA. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed in Durham CA.
Why Did You Desire to Become a Truck Driver?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's a good idea to review questions you may be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask truck driving prospects is "What made you choose trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the personal reasons you might have for being a trucker, but additionally what qualities and abilities you possess that make you good at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you must organize some strategies about how you want to answer them. Given that there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the ideal choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down some ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
Select the Ideal Trucking School Durham CA
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession 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 many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Durham CA.
A Bit About Durham California
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 81.9 square miles (212 km2), of which, 81.8 square miles (212 km2) of it is land and 0.14 square miles (0.36 km2) of it (0.19%) is water. Durham's main agricultural products are almonds and walnuts.
Durham was founded by the Durham Family. It is named for W. W. Durham, member of the California State Assembly. The Durham House still stands today as a reminder of what Durham was back in its early years. Durham was a town in which a railroad ran through and still does today. The railroad is what developed this town and kept it alive. The Durham Flour Mill, which burned down several times, was an integral part of this community.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Durham had a population of 5,518. The population density was 67.3 people per square mile (26.0/km²). The racial makeup of Durham was 5,088 (92.2%) White, 19 (0.3%) African American, 55 (1.0%) Native American, 35 (0.6%) Asian, 9 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 165 (3.0%) from other races, and 147 (2.7%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 614 persons (11.1%).
There were 2,113 households, out of which 713 (33.7%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 1,286 (60.9%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 181 (8.6%) had a female householder with no husband present, 103 (4.9%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 111 (5.3%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 15 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 413 households (19.5%) were made up of individuals and 188 (8.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61. There were 1,570 families (74.3% of all households); the average family size was 2.99.
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