How to Find the Best Truck Driving School near Antelope California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Antelope CA. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Antelope residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll receive the appropriate education. Don't forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Antelope CA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. 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 required to operate 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. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Antelope CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are a few more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Antelope CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Antelope CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in California and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding 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 comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Antelope CA schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement 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 among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Antelope CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with numerous 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Antelope CA schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Antelope CA school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an 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 working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Antelope CA employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance 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 assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Right Antelope CA CDL Training
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to launching 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 available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to look into 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 truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Antelope CA.