How to Enroll in the Right Trucker School near Sand Coulee Montana
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Sand Coulee MT. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Sand Coulee residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best method to ensure you’ll get the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master 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? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Sand Coulee MT, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and 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). Following are brief summaries for the two 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. 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Sand Coulee MT trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Sand Coulee MT area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense 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 receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Sand Coulee MT schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Montana licensing department to make sure 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 Montana 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 greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Sand Coulee MT schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification 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 actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs 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. Contact the Sand Coulee MT schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally 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 be sure to inquire if the Sand Coulee MT schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Montana, find out if the schools you are considering 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 Montana testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Sand Coulee MT school you choose 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 employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment 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 looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Sand Coulee MT employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Sand Coulee MT area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Sand Coulee MT?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Sand Coulee Montana area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Montana Highway 200
Montana Highway 200 (MT 200) in the U.S. state of Montana is a route running east-west covering the entire state of Montana. From the starting point at ID 200, near Heron, Montana the highway runs east to ND 200 near Fairview, Montana. It is part of a chain of state highways numbered 200 which extend from Idaho across Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota. Montana Highway 200 is also the longest route signed as a state highway in the United States.
The highway runs parallel to the Blackfoot River from McNamara to Milltown. The highway is subject to hazardous driving conditions in the winter, particularly due to black ice. The road crosses Rogers Pass on the continental divide on its way west to Missoula.
At its western end, west of Missoula, Highway 200 follows the Clark Fork River eastward at the feet of the Cabinet Mountains until it meets the Flathead River at MT 135. It then follows the Flathead River east to Dixon where the Flathead River turns north. Highway 200 continues east following the Jocko River until it intersects with US 93 at Ravalli. The highway then bends south to join I-90 going east into Missoula.
Driving Truck School Sand Coulee MT
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance 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 critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Driving Truck School. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may 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 choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Sand Coulee MT.
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