How to Decide on the Best Truck Driving School near Aliso Viejo California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Aliso Viejo CA. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Aliso Viejo home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best method to make sure you'll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Aliso Viejo CA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 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 address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries for the 2 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 more than 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucker School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Aliso Viejo CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Aliso Viejo CA area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked 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 top Aliso Viejo CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the California licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Aliso Viejo CA schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, 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 fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are considering are independent or captive 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 driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in California, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's important that the Aliso Viejo CA school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired 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 reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Aliso Viejo CA employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? 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 assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Aliso Viejo CA Truck Driving Training
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning 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 many options available and understanding them is crucial 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 cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Aliso Viejo CA.