How to Pick the Right Truck Driver School near Altadena California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Altadena CA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Altadena residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Altadena CA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses 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 address 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 brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 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. 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 need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Altadena CA truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Altadena CA area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Altadena CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the California licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next 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 instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Altadena CA schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide plenty of 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary 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. Get in touch with the Altadena CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different 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 have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Altadena CA schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in California, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Altadena CA school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Altadena CA employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Altadena CA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Altadena CA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Altadena California area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Altadena is an unincorporated area and census-designated place in Los Angeles County, California, United States, approximately 14 miles (23 km) from the downtown Los Angeles Civic Center, and directly north of the city of Pasadena, California. The population was 42,777 at the 2010 census, up from 42,610 at the 2000 census.
In the mid-1860s, Benjamin Eaton first developed water sources from the Arroyo Seco and Eaton Canyon to irrigate his vineyard near the edge of Eaton Canyon. This made possible the development of Altadena, Pasadena, and South Pasadena. He did the construction for B. D. Wilson and Dr. John Griffin, who jointly owned the Mexican land grant of Rancho San Pascual, about 14,000 acres (57 km2), that was the future sites of these three communities. They hoped to develop and sell this land in a real estate plan called the San Pasqual Plantation. Their efforts failed by 1870, despite Eaton's irrigation ditch that drew water from the site of present-day Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Arroyo Seco. They had failed because the land was relatively inaccessible and few believed crops could thrive that close to the mountains.
Eaton tried to sell the land for the partners, and in late 1873 he helped broker a deal with Daniel Berry, who represented a group of investors from Indiana, to buy 4,000 acres (16 km2) of the rancho. This included the land of present-day Altadena, but they developed a 2,500 acres (10 km2) section further south as Pasadena. In 1881, the land that would later become Altadena was sold to John and Fred Woodbury, brothers who launched the subdivision of Altadena in 1887. The land remained primarily agricultural, though several eastern millionaires built mansions along Mariposa Street, and a small community developed through the 1890s and into the next century.
Getting Your CDL Altadena CA
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Getting Your CDL. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Altadena CA.
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