How to Choose the Right Trucking Classes near Anaheim California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Anaheim CA. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent 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 reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Anaheim residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you'll obtain the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Anaheim CA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 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 drive 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 might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Anaheim CA truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Anaheim CA area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Anaheim 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 track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the California licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio 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 particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Anaheim CA schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's essential that the instructors 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 a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish plenty 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Anaheim CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations 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 be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Anaheim CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. 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 convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Anaheim CA school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Anaheim CA employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Anaheim CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Right Anaheim CA CDL Driver Training
Selecting the right trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new profession 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 many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced 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 the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter 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 Anaheim CA.