How to Decide on the Best Trucking School near Brea California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Brea CA. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Brea home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you'll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select 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 review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Brea CA, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person 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 discuss 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 short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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. 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 might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Brea CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Brea CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Brea CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning 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 local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the California licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking 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 instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following 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 receiving the individual 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 drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Brea CA schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide lots 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark 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 considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Brea CA schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in California, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Brea CA school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Brea CA employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Brea CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Select the Right Brea CA Truck Driving Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn 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 to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need 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 enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, 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 entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Brea CA.