How to Decide on the Best Trucker Classes near Bell California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Bell CA. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Bell home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll obtain the right education. Don't forget, 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 objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Bell CA, a driver needs to get 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 choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and 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 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 more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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. Several 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 types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucker School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Bell CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Bell CA area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense 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 obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually 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 begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding 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 period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Bell CA schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish lots 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Bell CA schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Bell CA schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in California, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Bell CA school you select 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 prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Bell CA employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Bell CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Learn More About Bell Truck Driver Schools
Enroll in the Best Bell CA CDL Training
Picking the right truck driving school is an essential 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 available and understanding them is critical 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 safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. 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.