How to Choose a CDL Training School Santa Clara Utah
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Santa Clara UT. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Santa Clara residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on 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 talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Santa Clara UT, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 might also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Santa Clara UT trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Santa Clara UT area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Santa Clara UT schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Utah licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Utah and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Santa Clara UT schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide ample 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs 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 UT schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Santa Clara UT schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Utah, 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 other schools for test times at Utah testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Santa Clara UT school you select provides 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 spend 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 commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Santa Clara UT employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Santa Clara UT area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Santa Clara UT?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Santa Clara Utah area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Santa Clara, Utah
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.9 square miles (12.7 km²), of which, 4.9 square miles (12.6 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.41%) is water.
In 1854, Jacob Hamblin was called by Brigham Young to serve a mission to the southern Paiute and settled at Santa Clara in the vicinity of the modern city of St. George, Utah. The town is among the oldest in the area.
The first settlers built Fort Clara or Fort Santa Clara, in the winter of 1855-1856. In the fall of 1861, Swiss Mormon colonists arrived at the new settlement, but shortly afterward were victims of the large flood in the Clara River that wiped out the fort and most other buildings, its irrigation dams and ditches, in early in 1862. This flood was part of the Great Flood of 1862.
Choose the Ideal CDL School Santa Clara UT
Selecting the right truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Santa Clara UT.
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