How to Enroll in the Right CDL Training Classes near Anaheim California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Anaheim CA. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Anaheim residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best means to guarantee you'll obtain the right education. Don't forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Anaheim CA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 descriptions for the 2 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 greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 required 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. Some of the vehicles that operators may be qualified to drive 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 school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Anaheim CA truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are several additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Anaheim CA area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered 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 an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Anaheim CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the California licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in California and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction 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 insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Anaheim CA schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Anaheim CA schools you are considering 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 driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific 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 maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Anaheim CA schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 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 offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Anaheim CA school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask 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 employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Anaheim CA employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Anaheim CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Select the Right Anaheim CA Truck Driving Training
Choosing the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to look into 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 choose an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Anaheim CA.