How to Find the Best CDL Training School near Aliso Viejo California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Aliso Viejo CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Aliso Viejo residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to ensure you'll obtain the appropriate training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable 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 address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Aliso Viejo CA, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and 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 explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 required 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. 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 require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Aliso Viejo CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are several additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving 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. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, 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 program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Aliso Viejo CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, 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 be no 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 regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Aliso Viejo CA schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a good standard 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 looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with a wide range of 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 be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in California, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Aliso Viejo CA school you enroll in offers 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 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 accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Aliso Viejo CA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Aliso Viejo CA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Best Aliso Viejo CA Truck Driving Training
Selecting the right 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 shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may 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 trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Aliso Viejo CA.