How to Pick the Best Trucker School near Azusa California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Azusa CA. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Azusa home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to ensure you'll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Azusa CA, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short 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 greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 required to drive 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 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Azusa CA truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are a few additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Azusa CA area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Azusa CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers 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 instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists 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 skillfully takes time. Most Azusa 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 Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with 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 a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire 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 permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in California, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Azusa CA school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Azusa CA employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Azusa CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Best Azusa CA Truck Driving Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets 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 vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced 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 firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Azusa CA.