How to Choose the Right CDL Driving Classes near Baldwin Park California
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Baldwin Park CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Baldwin Park residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best means to make certain you'll receive the right training. Just remember, 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 target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Baldwin Park CA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject 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 together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations for the two 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 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Baldwin Park CA truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Baldwin Park CA area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Baldwin Park CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the California licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual 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 drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Baldwin Park CA schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Baldwin Park CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Baldwin Park CA schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in California, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Baldwin Park CA school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career. 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 national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Baldwin Park CA employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Baldwin Park 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 assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Baldwin Park CA Truck Driving Training
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving 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 choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Baldwin Park CA.