How to Find the Right Trucker School near Baldwin Park California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Baldwin Park CA. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need 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 ideal method to ensure you'll receive the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified 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 cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Baldwin Park CA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 required 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. 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Baldwin Park CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are some additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Baldwin Park CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 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 truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Baldwin Park CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in California and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Baldwin Park CA schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide plenty 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 operating 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 gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among 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. Contact the Baldwin Park CA schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with numerous 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. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Baldwin Park CA schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in California, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Baldwin Park CA school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure 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, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Baldwin Park CA employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Baldwin Park CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Select the Right Baldwin Park CA Truck Driver Training
Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to look into 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 truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Baldwin Park CA.