How to Pick the Right Truck Driver School near Sandpoint Idaho
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Sandpoint ID. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Sandpoint residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll receive the right education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss 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 Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Sandpoint ID, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic 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 kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions for the two 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 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 required 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. Some 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Sandpoint ID truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Sandpoint ID area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Sandpoint ID schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Idaho licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Idaho and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Sandpoint ID schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with 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.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Sandpoint ID schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Sandpoint ID schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Idaho, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Idaho testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Sandpoint ID school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Sandpoint ID employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Sandpoint ID area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Sandpoint ID?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Sandpoint Idaho area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Sandpoint's major economic contributors include forest products, light manufacturing, tourism, recreation and government services. As the largest service center in the two northern Idaho counties (Bonner and Boundary), as well as northwestern Montana, it has an active retail sector. It is the headquarters of Wildwood Grilling, a manufacturer of Cedar grilling planks and other wood smoking products; it is the headquarters of Litehouse Foods, a national salad dressing manufacturer; and Quest Aircraft, a maker of utility aircraft.
Sandpoint lies on the shores of Idaho's largest lake, 43-mile-long Lake Pend Oreille, and is surrounded by three major mountain ranges, the Selkirk, Cabinet and Bitterroot ranges. It is home to Schweitzer Mountain Resort, one of Idaho's largest ski resorts, and is on the International Selkirk Loop and two National Scenic Byways (Wild Horse Trail and Pend Oreille Scenic Byway). Among other distinctions awarded by national media in the past decade, in 2011 Sandpoint was named the nation's "Most Beautiful Small Town" by Rand McNally and USA Today.
The Salish Tribes, specifically the Kalispel and the Kootenai built encampments on the shore of Lake Pend Oreille every summer, fished, made baskets of cedar, and collected huckleberries before returning to either Montana or Washington in the fall. The encampments ended before 1930.
Local CDL Training Sandpoint ID
Choosing the right truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Local CDL Training. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Sandpoint ID.
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