How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driving School near Arden Arcade California
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Arden Arcade CA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Arden Arcade residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best way to guarantee you'll obtain the proper training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Arden Arcade CA, an operator must attain 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 subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class 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 brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucker School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Arden Arcade CA truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized 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 similarly or even more important. So following are some more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Arden Arcade CA area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Arden Arcade CA schools had to start from their opening 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 numbers, search 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 placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention 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 be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Arden Arcade CA schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Arden Arcade CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Arden Arcade CA schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. 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 battling with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Arden Arcade CA school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor 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 obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Arden Arcade CA employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Arden Arcade CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Right Arden Arcade CA Truck Driving Training
Choosing the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance 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 offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want 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 enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Arden Arcade CA.