How to Enroll in the Best CDL Training Classes 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 ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Aliso Viejo residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll receive the appropriate training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Aliso Viejo CA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 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 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucker School
Once 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 earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Aliso Viejo CA area are accredited because of the demanding 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 a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Aliso Viejo CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality 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 California licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Aliso Viejo CA schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in California, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Aliso Viejo CA school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Aliso Viejo CA employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Aliso Viejo CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Select the Right Aliso Viejo CA Truck Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to think about 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 enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Aliso Viejo CA.