How to Enroll in the Right Truck Driver Classes near Arcadia California
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Arcadia CA. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want 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 important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll get the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to master 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 choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address 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 Is Required?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Arcadia CA, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive 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 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 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. A few 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 drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Arcadia CA truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Arcadia CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense 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. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, 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 assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Arcadia CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, 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 trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists 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 Arcadia CA schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide sufficient 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Arcadia CA schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous 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 be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Arcadia CA schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking 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 advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Arcadia CA school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Arcadia CA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? 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 aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best Arcadia CA CDL Training
Picking the right truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new profession 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 many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Arcadia CA.