How to Pick the Best Trucker School near Boyle Heights California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Boyle Heights CA. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Boyle Heights residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to ensure you'll obtain the appropriate training. Don't forget, 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 purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Boyle Heights CA, an operator needs to 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. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight 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 descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 drive 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. 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 might also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucker School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Boyle Heights CA truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized 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 if not more important. So following are some additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Boyle Heights CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator 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. Having said that, even the top Boyle Heights CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in California and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is particularly 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 drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Boyle Heights CA schools provide training courses 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 previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Boyle Heights CA schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. 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 refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Boyle Heights CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in California, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Boyle Heights CA school you select provides 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 teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Boyle Heights CA employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Boyle Heights CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Boyle Heights CA CDL Training
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new profession 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 a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to think about 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 the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Boyle Heights CA.