How to Choose the Right CDL Driving School near Agoura Hills California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Agoura Hills CA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Agoura Hills home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal method to make certain you’ll receive the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your objective 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 select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Agoura Hills CA, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 required to operate 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Agoura Hills CA trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Agoura Hills CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered 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 standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Agoura Hills CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized 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 claims it can train 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 Agoura Hills CA schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish ample driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual 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 provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Agoura Hills CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Agoura Hills CA schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted 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 of other schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems 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 in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the Agoura Hills CA school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. 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 working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering 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 firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Agoura Hills CA employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Agoura Hills CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid 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.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Agoura Hills CA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Agoura Hills California area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Agoura Hills, California
Agoura Hills (/əˈɡɒrə/ (listen)) is a city in Los Angeles County, California. Its population was estimated to be at 20,843 in 2014, up from 20,537 at the 2000 census. It is in the eastern Conejo Valley between the Simi Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains. The city is on the border between the county of Los Angeles to the east and south, and Ventura County to the north and west. It is about 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Downtown Los Angeles and less than 10 miles (16 km) west of the Los Angeles city limits (Woodland Hills). Agoura Hills and unincorporated Agoura sit next to Calabasas, Oak Park, and Westlake Village.
The area was first settled by the Chumash Native Americans around 10,000 years ago. As the Alta California (Upper California) coast was settled by Spanish Franciscan missionaries in the late 18th century, the El Camino Real (the Royal Road or King's Highway), a road from Loreto, Baja California, Mexico to Sonoma, California, and connecting the Spanish missions in California, was established through the heart of what would later be known as Agoura Hills.
In about 1800, Miguel Ortega was granted a Spanish grazing concession called Rancho Las Virgenes or El Rancho de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Las Virgenes. The grant was abandoned after Ortega's death in 1810, and José Maria Dominguez was given Rancho Las Virgenes as a Mexican land grant in 1834. Maria Antonia Machado de Reyes purchased the rancho from Dominguez in 1845. (The "Reyes Adobe" ranch headquarters sits today in central Agoura Hills, where it is part of the Reyes Adobe Museum built around 2004 and owned by the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department.)
How To Get A Class B CDL Agoura Hills CA
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation 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 available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Get A Class B CDL. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Agoura Hills CA.
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