How to Choose the Right CDL Driving School near Antelope California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Antelope CA. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you'll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Antelope residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to make sure you'll receive the appropriate education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Antelope CA, an operator must 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 topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Antelope CA truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Antelope CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Antelope CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Antelope CA schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish 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 provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of 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 freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Antelope CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in California, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Antelope CA school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national 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 graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Antelope CA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Antelope CA Truck Driving Training
Selecting the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Antelope CA.