How to Find the Right CDL Training School near Baldwin Park California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Baldwin Park CA. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent 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 a number of factors that you'll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Baldwin Park home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to make certain you'll get the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to learn 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? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Baldwin Park CA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 operate 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. A few 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 might also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Baldwin Park CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Baldwin Park CA area are accredited due to the stringent 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Baldwin Park CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with 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 must be licensed in California and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning 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 relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Baldwin Park CA schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide sufficient 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 essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Baldwin Park CA schools you are researching 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 make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Baldwin Park CA schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 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 reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Baldwin Park CA school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask 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 Baldwin Park CA employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? 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 assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Right Baldwin Park CA CDL Driver Training
Selecting the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want 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 trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Baldwin Park CA.