How to Pick the Best CDL Training Classes near Arden Arcade California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Arden Arcade CA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Arden Arcade residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best means to make sure you'll receive the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Arden Arcade CA, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose 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 descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Arden Arcade CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Arden Arcade CA area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked 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 best of Arden Arcade CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing department to verify 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 employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction 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 drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Arden Arcade CA schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements 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 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 check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will provide plenty of 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Arden Arcade CA schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. 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 place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Arden Arcade CA schools you are contemplating 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 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in California, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Arden Arcade CA school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Arden Arcade CA employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Arden Arcade CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Select the Best Arden Arcade CA Truck Driving Training
Picking the ideal trucking 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 shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to look into 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 decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Arden Arcade CA.