How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Sparks Nevada
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Sparks NV. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Sparks residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to ensure you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Sparks NV, 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 select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 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. Several 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 specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Sparks NV trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are several more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Sparks NV area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked 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 Sparks NV 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 track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Nevada licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Nevada and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving 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 comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Sparks NV schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish sufficient 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 essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Sparks NV schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. 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 place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict 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 Sparks NV schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Nevada, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Nevada testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Sparks NV school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask 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 referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Sparks NV employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Sparks NV area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Sparks NV?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Sparks Nevada area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Sparks is a city in Washoe County, Nevada, United States. It was founded in 1904 and incorporated on March 15, 1905, and is located just east of Reno. The 2010 U.S. Census Bureau population count was 90,264. It is the fifth most populous city in Nevada. It is named after the late Nevada Governor John Sparks, a member of the Silver Party.
The area that is now Sparks was first inhabited by the Washoe people. Euro-American settlement began in the early 1850s, and the population density remained very low until 1904 when the Southern Pacific Railroad built a switch yard and maintenance sheds there, after moving the division point from Wadsworth. In 1902, The Southern Pacific purchased a large tract of swamp-like land near its newly built railyard, and gave everyone clear deed to a 50' x 140' lot for the grand sum of $1. They also offered to pick up and move — free of charge — every house in Wadsworth and reassemble it in this new town. As the population increased, a city was established, first called Harriman, after E. H. Harriman, president of the Southern Pacific, and then renamed Sparks, after John Sparks, then Governor of Nevada.
Sparks remained a small town until the 1950s, when economic growth in Reno triggered a housing boom north of the railroad in the area of Sparks. During the 1970s, the area south of the railroad started to fill up with warehouses and light industry. In 1984, the tower for the Nugget Casino Resort was finished, giving Sparks its first, and currently only, high-rise casino. In 1996, the redevelopment effort of the B Street business district across from the Nugget that started in the early 1980s took a step forward with the opening of a multi-screen movie complex and the construction of a plaza area. This area, now known as Victorian Square, is a pedestrian-friendly district that hosts many open-air events.
Choose the Right CDL School Sparks NV
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an essential 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 shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker 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 soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Sparks NV.
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