How to Pick the Best CDL Training School near Arcadia California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Arcadia CA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Arcadia home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to ensure you'll receive the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective 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 objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review 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 Arcadia CA, a driver 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. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries for the two 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. 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 more 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 need endorsements to drive certain types 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 license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Arcadia CA trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Arcadia CA area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required 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 be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Arcadia 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 regarding 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 regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the California licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting 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 professes 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 professionally requires time. The majority of Arcadia CA schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to 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 satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among 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 Arcadia CA schools you are researching and ask 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 enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Arcadia CA schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several 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 advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Arcadia CA school you choose 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 prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance 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 firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Arcadia CA employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Arcadia CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Best Arcadia CA Truck Driving Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive 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 choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Arcadia CA.