How to Pick the Right Trucker School near Castaic California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Castaic CA. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Castaic home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills 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 choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Castaic CA, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type 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 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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 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 needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Castaic CA truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Castaic CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical 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 know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Castaic CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the California licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in California and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning 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. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Castaic CA schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish 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 operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Castaic CA schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide 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 tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Castaic CA schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in California, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Castaic CA school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing 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 needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask 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 hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Castaic CA employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Castaic CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Castaic CA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Castaic California area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Castaic, California (also spelled Castec, or Kashtiq; pronunciation is a source of contention between older and newer residents, see below) is an unincorporated community located in the northern part of Los Angeles County, California. Many thousands of motorists pass through Castaic daily as they drive to or from Los Angeles on Interstate 5. Castaic Lake is part of the California Water Project and is the site of a hydro-electric power plant. Castaic is 41.7 miles (67.1 km) northwest of Los Angeles Union Station and due north of the city of Santa Clarita, California.
On Spanish documents, the original spelling was Castec, which represented the Chumash Native American word Kashtiq, meaning "eyes" or "wet spot." Castec is first mentioned on old boundary maps of Rancho San Francisco, as a canyon at the trailhead leading to the old Chumash camp at Castac Lake (Tejon Ranch), which is intermittently wet and briny.
Modern Castaic began in 1887 when Southern Pacific set up a railroad siding on the line between Piru and Saugus Station, naming it "Castaic Junction". Between January and April 1890, the Castec School District adopted the new spelling, Castaic.
How To Obtain Class A CDL Castaic CA
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets 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. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Obtain Class A CDL. But first and foremost, you must get the proper 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 think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving 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 choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Castaic CA.
Keep On Trucking in These Other California Locations