How to Find the Best Trucker Classes near Bellflower California
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Bellflower CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Bellflower residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you'll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge 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 pick 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 eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Bellflower CA, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight 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). Following are short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 CDL 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. Some 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 kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Bellflower CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Bellflower CA area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking 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 start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in California and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention 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 teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Bellflower CA schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though 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 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 best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary 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. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Bellflower CA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from some trucking 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 maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Bellflower CA schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in California, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide 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 moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Bellflower CA school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Bellflower CA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Bellflower CA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask 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 need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best Bellflower CA CDL Training
Selecting the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Bellflower CA.