How to Find the Best CDL Training School near Atwater California
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Atwater CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you'll want to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Atwater home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you'll obtain the right training. Just remember, your goal 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 decide on 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 talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Atwater CA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. 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 required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Atwater CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Atwater CA area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost 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 several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Atwater CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors 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 personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Atwater CA schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. 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 qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish lots 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 necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Atwater CA schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver 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 maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Atwater CA schools you are considering are independent or captive 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 driver 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 benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Atwater CA school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Atwater CA employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Atwater CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Best Atwater CA Truck Driving Training
Picking the appropriate truck driving 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 several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Atwater CA.