How to Enroll in the Right Trucking School near Bell California
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Bell CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Bell home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you'll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Bell CA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are brief summaries of the 2 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. A few 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Bell CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are some additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking 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 common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Bell CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the California licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker 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 instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Bell CA schools offer training courses that run 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 previously stated, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable 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 considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Bell CA schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in California, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Bell CA school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Bell CA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Bell 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Right Bell CA Truck Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company 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 in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Bell CA.