How to Pick the Right CDL Training Classes near Bakersfield California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Bakersfield CA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Bakersfield residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best means to guarantee you'll get the proper education. Don't forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Bakersfield CA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations for 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 CDL is needed 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 require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucker School
After you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Bakersfield CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some more points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Bakersfield CA area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided 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 quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking 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. However, even the top Bakersfield CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the California licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in California and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Bakersfield CA schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Bakersfield CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive 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 period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with numerous 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Bakersfield CA schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. 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 of competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Bakersfield CA school you enroll in offers 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 prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Bakersfield CA employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Bakersfield 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 assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Bakersfield CA Truck Driver Training
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Bakersfield CA.