How to Decide on the Right Truck Driver School near Arroyo Grande California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Arroyo Grande CA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Arroyo Grande residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best way to make sure you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Arroyo Grande CA, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations 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. Several 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. Several 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 need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Arroyo Grande CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Arroyo Grande CA area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Arroyo Grande CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the California licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no 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 be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Arroyo Grande CA schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Arroyo Grande CA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Arroyo Grande CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in California, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Arroyo Grande CA school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Arroyo Grande CA employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Arroyo Grande CA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Arroyo Grande CA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Arroyo Grande California area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Arroyo Grande, California
The first Europeans to see this stretch of coast were the crew of Portuguese explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, working in the service of Spain. The Spanish Portolá expedition was the first European visit by land, passing through the area on September 4, 1769. When Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa was established nearby, the Portolà trail became part of the road connecting the 21 Spanish missions (today called El Camino Real). Later, agricultural activities expanded into the area. The Arroyo Grande Valley was found to have particularly fertile ground and was given the name meaning "wide riverbed" in Spanish.
Francis Ziba Branch, originally from New York, saw the area on a hunting expedition during the period when California was part of Mexico. Branch married María Manuela Carlón, and this marriage entitled Branch to file a claim for a Mexican land grant. In 1836 he, his wife, and baby son moved onto Rancho Santa Manuela. They were managing a successful cattle ranching operation when California became a U.S. territory, and then a U.S. state. But some years later they suffered financial difficulties during a drought when many cattle died. They sold off smaller parcels of land to settlers.
In 1862, the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors established the township of Arroyo Grande. Businesses developed along a road called Branch Street to serve local agriculture. A railroad depot was built in 1882. The city of Arroyo Grande was incorporated on July 10, 1911.
Get My CDL Arroyo Grande CA
Picking the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Get My CDL. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL 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 choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Arroyo Grande CA.
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