How to Pick the Best CDL Training Classes near Bellflower California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Bellflower CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Bellflower home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you'll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Bellflower CA, an operator must 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. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Bellflower CA truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Bellflower CA area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Bellflower CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking 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 experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction 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 insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training 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, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Bellflower CA schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get 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 some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in California, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Bellflower CA school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to 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 career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms 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 may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Bellflower CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Right Bellflower CA CDL Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Bellflower CA.