How to Find the Right Trucking School near Aliso Viejo California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Aliso Viejo CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Aliso Viejo residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best way to make certain you'll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose 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 eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Aliso Viejo CA, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight 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 brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Aliso Viejo CA truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Aliso Viejo CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace 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. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Aliso Viejo CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the California licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in California and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Aliso Viejo CA schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will provide 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, 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 a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Aliso Viejo CA employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Aliso Viejo CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Find Out More About Aliso Viejo Truck Driver Schools
Enroll in the Right Aliso Viejo CA Truck Driver Training
Choosing the right truck driving 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 shape 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. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on 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 select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Aliso Viejo CA.