How to Select a Truck Driver School Reno Nevada
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Reno NV. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Reno residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll receive the right training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Reno NV, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class 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). Below are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 CDL is needed to operate 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 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 may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Reno NV truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Reno NV area are accredited because of 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 benchmarks 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 operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Reno NV schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Nevada licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Nevada and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Reno NV schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to 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.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement 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 among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Reno NV schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as 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 benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Reno NV schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Nevada, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Nevada testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Reno NV 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 prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Reno NV employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Reno NV area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Reno NV?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Reno Nevada area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Reno (/ˈriːnoʊ/ REE-noh) is a city in the U.S. state of Nevada, located in the western part of the state, approximately 22 miles (35 km) from Lake Tahoe. Known as "The Biggest Little City in the World", Reno is famous for its hotels and casinos and as the birthplace of Harrah's Entertainment (now known as Caesars Entertainment Corporation). It is the county seat of Washoe County, in the northwestern part of the state. The city sits in a high desert at the foot of the Sierra Nevada and its downtown area (along with Sparks) occupies a valley informally known as the Truckee Meadows. It is named after slain Union general Jesse L. Reno.
Reno is the most populous city in the state outside the Las Vegas Valley, with an estimated population of 241,445 in 2015. Reno is part of the Reno–Sparks metropolitan area, which consists of all of both Washoe and Storey counties and has a 2016 estimated population of 457,420.
As early as the mid 1850s a few pioneers settled in the Truckee Meadows, a relatively fertile valley through which the Truckee River made its way from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake. In addition to subsistence farming, these early residents could pick up business from travelers along the California Trail, which followed the Truckee westward, before branching off towards Donner Lake, where the formidable obstacle of the Sierra Nevada began.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driving School Reno NV
Choosing the right trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm 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 soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Reno NV.
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