How to Decide on the Right Truck Driving School near Shelby Montana
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Shelby MT. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive 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 selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Shelby residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified 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 discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Shelby MT, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply 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 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 brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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. Several 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 operate specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Shelby MT trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Shelby MT area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 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 business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Shelby MT schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Montana licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Montana and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Shelby MT schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method 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 ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Shelby MT schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Shelby MT schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Montana, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Montana testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Shelby MT school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Shelby MT employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Shelby MT area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Shelby MT?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Shelby Montana area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.18 square miles (16.01 km2), of which, 6.03 square miles (15.62 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.39 km2) is water.
Shelby has four distinct seasons, and is considered an arid climate. Long, severe winters give way to springlike weather anywhere from March to May. Summers can be extremely dry and hot, though it is not unusual to experience a snow flurry in July. The area is prone to heat, lightning, hail, and severe thunderstorms during the summer months. Fall weather is often unpredictable, with snow falling during October some years, and temperatures well into the 80s stretching until the end of November on other years. Due to the city's location just off of the Rocky Mountain Front, wind is a constant.
As of the census of 2010, there were 3,376 people, 1,245 households, and 717 families residing in the city. The population density was 559.9 inhabitants per square mile (216.2/km2). There were 1,371 housing units at an average density of 227.4 per square mile (87.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 89.5% White, 0.8% African American, 6.5% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.8% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.0% of the population.
CDL Driving School Near Me Shelby MT
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge 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 CDL Driving School Near Me. But first and foremost, you must obtain 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 look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter 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 Shelby MT.
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