How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driver School near Anaheim California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Anaheim CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Anaheim residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to make sure you'll get the right training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow 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 discuss in the balance 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 Is Required?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Anaheim CA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions for the two 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. A few 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 CDL 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. Several 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 require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucker School
After you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Anaheim CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Anaheim CA area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. For 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Anaheim CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the California licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. 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 getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Anaheim CA schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Anaheim CA schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Anaheim CA schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of 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 looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Anaheim CA school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty 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 fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Anaheim CA employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Anaheim CA area technical or vocational 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 get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Right Anaheim CA Truck Driving Training
Selecting the right trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession 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 if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to look into 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 truck driving 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 decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Anaheim CA.