How to Enroll in the Best CDL Training School 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 operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you'll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Bellflower home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to make sure you'll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Is Required?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Bellflower CA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver 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 B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind 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 descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 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. A few 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 need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Bellflower CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Bellflower CA area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered 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 quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Bellflower CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized 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 teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Bellflower CA schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of 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 crucial that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish plenty of 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 essential training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Bellflower CA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get 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 amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Bellflower CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. 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 convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Bellflower 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 employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Bellflower CA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Bellflower CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Right Bellflower CA CDL Training
Choosing the right truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Bellflower CA.