How to Find the Best CDL Training Classes near Aliso Viejo California
Congrats 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 highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Aliso Viejo residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best way to make sure you'll receive the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills 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 decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Aliso Viejo CA, a driver must 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. Given that the subject of this article is how to select 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 together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Aliso Viejo CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving 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 commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, 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 ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater 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 be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Aliso Viejo CA schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to 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 satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Aliso Viejo CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver 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 instead of having relationships with many different 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire 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 third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Aliso Viejo CA school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Aliso Viejo CA employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? 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 aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Best Aliso Viejo CA CDL Training
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need 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 enroll in an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Aliso Viejo CA.