How to Find the Right Truck Driver Classes near Antelope California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Antelope CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Antelope residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best method to ensure you'll obtain the proper education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk 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 United States and Antelope CA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class 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). Following 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 more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed 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. Some of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B CDLs may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Antelope CA truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Antelope CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be 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 several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, 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 section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Antelope CA schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher 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 teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Antelope CA schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Antelope CA schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Antelope CA school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. 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 obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out 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 Antelope CA employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Antelope CA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance 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 important first step to launching 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 many options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Antelope CA.