How to Choose the Right Truck Driving School near Arcadia California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Arcadia CA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Arcadia home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best way to make certain you'll receive the right training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Arcadia CA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDL is needed 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 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 drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucker School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Arcadia CA trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Arcadia CA area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, 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 several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Arcadia CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the California licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Arcadia CA schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish ample 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Arcadia CA schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly 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 receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Arcadia CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in California, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Arcadia CA school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads 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 not many Arcadia CA employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Arcadia CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Select the Right Arcadia CA CDL Training
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Arcadia CA.