How to Decide on the Right Trucking School near Azusa California
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Azusa CA. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Azusa residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best way to make sure you'll get the proper education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional 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 cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Azusa CA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate 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 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 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. 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 require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Azusa CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Azusa CA area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Azusa CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Azusa CA schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied 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. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Azusa 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 discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Azusa CA schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in California, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Azusa CA school you choose 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 teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Azusa CA employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Azusa CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. 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.
Learn More About Azusa CDL Schools
Choose the Right Azusa CA CDL Driver Training
Picking the right truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking 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 select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Azusa CA.