How to Enroll in the Right Trucker Classes near Beaumont California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Beaumont CA. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Beaumont residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to make certain you'll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your goal 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 target 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 Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Beaumont CA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can apply 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucker School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Beaumont CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Beaumont CA area are accredited due to the rigorous 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Beaumont CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. 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 stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Beaumont CA schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, 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 real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Beaumont CA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Beaumont CA schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in California, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Beaumont CA school you enroll in provides 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 employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Beaumont CA employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Beaumont CA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Best Beaumont CA Truck Driver Training
Choosing the right trucking school is an important 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 many options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to think about 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 trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Beaumont CA.