How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driver School near Brea California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Brea CA. Maybe 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 offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Brea home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Brea CA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses 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 driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are brief descriptions for the two 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. A few 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 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. Some 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Brea CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Brea CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Brea CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning 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 companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists 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. Most Brea CA schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish ample 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Brea CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations 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 surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Brea CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in California, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Brea CA school you select 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 spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Brea CA employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Brea CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Learn More About Brea Trucker Schools
Enroll in the Best Brea CA CDL Driver Training
Picking the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL 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 get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Brea CA.