How to Choose the Best Trucking School near Boyle Heights California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Boyle Heights CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Boyle Heights home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to make certain you'll receive the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance 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 Is Required?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Boyle Heights CA, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 drive 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 may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucker School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Boyle Heights CA truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Boyle Heights CA area are accredited because of the rigorous 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Boyle Heights CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the California licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in California and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Boyle Heights CA schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing 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? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Boyle Heights CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work 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 only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Boyle Heights CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in California, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Boyle Heights CA school you enroll in provides 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 devote 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Boyle Heights CA employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Boyle Heights CA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Select the Right Boyle Heights CA CDL Training
Picking the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced 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 firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Boyle Heights CA.