How to Select the Best CDL Training School near Brea California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Brea CA. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you'll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Brea residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to make certain you'll receive the appropriate training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Brea CA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three 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 address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 summaries for the two 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 CDL is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucker School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Brea CA truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Brea CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Prospective 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 mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Brea CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is relating 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 local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the California licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker 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 experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater 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 be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Brea CA schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers 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.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Brea CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Brea CA schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in California, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Brea CA school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Brea CA employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Brea CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. 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 must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Brea CA Truck Driving Training
Choosing the right trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Brea CA.