How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driver Classes near Bakersfield California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Bakersfield CA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever 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 variables that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Bakersfield residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to make certain you'll receive the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target 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 remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Bakersfield CA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations of the 2 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 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 required to drive 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 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 types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Bakersfield CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Bakersfield CA area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent 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 know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Bakersfield CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the California licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual 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 relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Bakersfield CA schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through 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, a great trucking 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates 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. Get in touch with the Bakersfield CA schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations 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 be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Bakersfield CA schools you are contemplating 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 third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Bakersfield CA school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio 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 poor job placement rate or not many Bakersfield CA employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Bakersfield CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Learn More About Bakersfield Trucking Schools
Enroll in the Right Bakersfield CA Truck Driver Training
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need 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 trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Bakersfield CA.