How to Choose the Right Truck Driving School near Brea California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Brea CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Brea residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to make sure you'll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Brea CA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 descriptions 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 more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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. A few 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Brea CA truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Brea CA area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Brea CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the California licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining 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 claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Brea CA schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, 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 regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide 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 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 receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 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 Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Brea CA schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in California, find out 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 competing schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Brea CA school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend 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 obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Brea CA employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Brea CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Select the Best Brea CA Truck Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Brea CA.