How to Select the Right CDL Driving Classes near Bellflower California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Bellflower CA. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you'll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Bellflower residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best method to make certain you'll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, 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 target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Bellflower CA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify 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 kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 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 required to operate 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. 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucker School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Bellflower CA truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Bellflower CA area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace 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. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Bellflower 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 history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of 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 get in touch with the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Bellflower CA schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher 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 teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Bellflower CA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular 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 having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Bellflower CA schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available 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 battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Bellflower CA school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For 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 holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Bellflower CA employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Bellflower CA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating 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 Best Bellflower CA Truck Driving Training
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Bellflower CA.