How to Choose the Best Trucker Classes near Bell California
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Bell CA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you'll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Bell home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the best means to ensure you'll receive the proper education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Bell CA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 CDL 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 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
After you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Bell CA truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Bell CA area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Bell CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Bell CA schools provide 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 Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers 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 crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to 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 happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish plenty 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary 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. Get in touch with the Bell CA schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility 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 many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Bell CA schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer 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 benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Bell CA school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out 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 Bell CA employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Bell CA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Select the Right Bell CA CDL Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving 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 choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Bell CA.