How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driving School near Bell Gardens California
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Bell Gardens CA. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Bell Gardens home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to make certain you'll get the right training. Don't forget, your objective 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 goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Bell Gardens CA, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver 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 address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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 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 needed 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. 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 drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Bell Gardens CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are a few additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Bell Gardens CA area are accredited because of the rigorous 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Bell Gardens CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality 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 authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Bell Gardens CA schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already 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 qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. 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 ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, 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 essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Bell Gardens CA schools you are considering 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 some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Bell Gardens CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted 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 of other schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's important that the Bell Gardens CA school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Confirm 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, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Bell Gardens CA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Bell Gardens CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Bell Gardens CA Truck Driving Training
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Bell Gardens CA.