How to Choose the Best Trucker School near Antelope California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Antelope CA. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you'll want to consider before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Antelope residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to ensure you'll obtain the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Antelope CA, a driver needs to get 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 select a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 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 CDL is required to drive 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 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 operate specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Antelope CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Antelope CA area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know 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 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking 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. However, even the top Antelope CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching 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 experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Antelope CA schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will provide lots of 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Antelope CA schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Antelope CA schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in California, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's important that the Antelope CA school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Antelope CA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Antelope 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 assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best Antelope CA CDL Training
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to launching your new occupation 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 offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose 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 choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Antelope CA.