How to Decide on the Best CDL Training School near Azusa California
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Azusa CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Azusa residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best means to make certain you'll obtain the right education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Azusa CA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Azusa CA truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Azusa CA area are accredited because of the rigorous 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 required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Azusa CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the California licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Azusa CA schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it's imperative 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 qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Azusa CA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive 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 relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Azusa CA schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 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 reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Azusa CA school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Azusa CA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Azusa CA area vocational or trade 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 a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Right Azusa CA Truck Driving Training
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to look into 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 trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Azusa CA.