How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driver School near Antelope California
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Antelope CA. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Antelope home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to guarantee you'll get the appropriate education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge 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 pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Antelope CA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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 short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 needed 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 school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucker School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Antelope CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Antelope CA area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Antelope CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Antelope CA schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained 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 professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will provide sufficient 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, 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. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good standard 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 Antelope CA schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Antelope CA schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Antelope CA school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit 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 commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Antelope CA employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving 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. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Select the Right Antelope CA Truck Driver Training
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to think about 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 enroll in an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Antelope CA.