How to Find the Right CDL Training Classes near Antelope California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Antelope CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Antelope home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you'll obtain the proper education. Don't forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder 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 lawfully within the United States and Antelope CA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 CDL is needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Antelope CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Antelope CA area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Antelope CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the California licensing authority 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 employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. 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 receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Antelope CA schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several 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 instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Antelope CA schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining 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 have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire 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 a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Antelope CA school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out 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 hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Antelope CA employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Antelope CA area trade or technical 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 aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Select the Best Antelope CA CDL Driver Training
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want 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 trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. 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 Antelope CA.