How to Decide on a Truck Driver School near San Carlos California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near San Carlos CA. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to think about before making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your San Carlos home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 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 Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally in California and within the United States, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person 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 San Carlos CA, we will discuss 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). Following are brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 operators may be able to drive 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 operate 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 need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
After you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the San Carlos CA truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many San Carlos CA truck driver schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of San Carlos CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the California licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction 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 claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most San Carlos CA schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the San Carlos CA school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the San Carlos CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of San Carlos CA trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular 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 relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in California, ask if the San Carlos CA schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the San Carlos CA school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new career in San Carlos CA. 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, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed in San Carlos CA.
Why Did You Want to Become a Truck Driver?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's a good idea to consider questions you could be asked. Among the things that recruiters frequently ask truck driving applicants is "What drove you to choose trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to uncover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for being a trucker, but also what attributes and skills you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, along with a significant number of standard interview questions, so you should prepare a number of strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are so many factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the talents you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the leading candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but jot down several ideas and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
Choose the Best Truck Driver School San Carlos CA
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to consider 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 enroll in an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in San Carlos CA.
A Bit About San Carlos California
San Carlos, California
San Carlos is a city in San Mateo County, California on the San Francisco Peninsula, about halfway between San Francisco and San Jose. It is a small residential suburb located between Belmont (north) and Redwood City (south). The population is 28,406 per the 2010 census.
San Carlos, "The City of Good Living", aims for a "small town" feel. Its main downtown area is composed mostly of small shops and restaurants. San Carlos was the first city in California to open a charter school (San Carlos Charter Learning Center), and its schools rank consistently well in statewide lists.
San Carlos is home to San Carlos Airport and two museums. Located downtown, the San Carlos History Museum is dedicated to the display of the history of the town from early Native American history to the space age. This museum is open every Saturday from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. The Hiller Aviation Museum, a museum specializing in helicopter and aviation history, offers interactive exhibits and more than forty aircraft including a replica of the first aircraft to fly, a spy drone with a 200-foot wingspan, and the nose section of a Boeing 747.
Transportation options include membership in the SamTrans (San Mateo County Transit) bus system and a Caltrain station. The administrative headquarters of both agencies are located at 1250 San Carlos Avenue. In 2003, the city began experimenting with a free shuttle bus service named S.C.O.O.T. to help with transportation difficulties for those living in the hills of the town, and especially to make up for a lack of school buses. However, voters rejected a parcel tax that placed 100% of the financial burden on property owners and the S.C.O.O.T. program was dismantled on June 17, 2005.
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