How to Select the Right CDL Driving School near Alhambra California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Alhambra CA. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Alhambra home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to make sure you'll obtain the right training. Don't forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal 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 CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Alhambra CA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are short summaries of the 2 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 CDL is required to operate 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example 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 authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucker School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Alhambra CA truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Alhambra CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Alhambra CA 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 history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, 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 attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Alhambra CA schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies between 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. Check with the Alhambra CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Alhambra CA schools you are considering are captive or independent 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 driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in California, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Alhambra CA school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates 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 few Alhambra CA employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Alhambra CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Best Alhambra CA Truck Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Alhambra CA.