How to Pick the Right Truck Driving Classes near Azusa California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Azusa CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Azusa residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll obtain the proper training. Just remember, your goal 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 objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Azusa CA, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Azusa CA truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are several more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Azusa CA area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Azusa CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the California licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in California and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Azusa CA schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher 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 teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Azusa CA schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit 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 opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Azusa CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in California, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Azusa CA school you select 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 teacher should be willing 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 must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Azusa CA employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Azusa CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Right Azusa CA CDL Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold 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 drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Azusa CA.