How to Enroll in the Right Trucking School near Aliso Viejo California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Aliso Viejo CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Aliso Viejo residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best means to guarantee you'll receive the right training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target 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 balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Aliso Viejo CA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply 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 focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 needed 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Aliso Viejo CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are a few more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Aliso Viejo CA area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered 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 standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Aliso Viejo CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the California licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Aliso Viejo CA schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will furnish plenty of 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as 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 tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up 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 many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in California, 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 from other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Aliso Viejo CA school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Aliso Viejo CA employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Aliso Viejo CA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Select the Best Aliso Viejo CA CDL Training
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need 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 select an independent trucking 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 receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Aliso Viejo CA.