How to Pick the Best Trucker School near Arden Arcade California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Arden Arcade CA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you'll want to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Arden Arcade residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best means to guarantee you'll receive the right training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Arden Arcade CA, an operator must obtain 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. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 drive 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. Some 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 require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Arden Arcade CA truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are a few more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Arden Arcade CA area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace 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 know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated 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 Arden Arcade CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next 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 getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially 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 relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Arden Arcade CA schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Arden Arcade CA schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Arden Arcade CA schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in California, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Arden Arcade CA school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Arden Arcade CA employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Arden Arcade 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 evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Select the Right Arden Arcade CA CDL Training
Selecting the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation 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 available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must get the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Arden Arcade CA.