How to Pick the Best Trucking School near La Palma California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near La Palma CA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages 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 several factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your La Palma home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you’ll receive the right training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss 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 CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and La Palma CA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 needed to drive 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. A few 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 might also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the La Palma CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some more things that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the La Palma CA area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top La Palma CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the California licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is especially 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 be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of La Palma CA schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide sufficient 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the La Palma CA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular 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 affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the La Palma CA schools you are contemplating are independent or captive 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 truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in California, find out if the schools you are looking at 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 locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the La Palma CA school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few La Palma CA employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other La Palma CA area trade or technical 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 need to be submitted.
How To Get A Class A CDL La Palma California
Picking the ideal trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Get A Class A CDL and wanting information on the topic Get My CDL License. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in La Palma CA.
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La Palma, California
In 2013, La Palma was ranked 31st in the "Best places to live" among small cities (50,000 or less) in the United States by CNN's Money magazine. In 2007, it was ranked 16th best place to live in the US. The rankings are based on the small-and-friendly neighborhood vibe, high-ranking schools, low crime-rate and the lowest police response time in Orange County.
La Palma was incorporated on October 26, 1955. It was originally incorporated as Dairyland, and was one of three dairy cities in the region (the other two being Dairy Valley in Cerritos and Dairy City in Cypress) but when the dairies moved east in 1965, the name of the community was changed to La Palma, after the region's Spanish heritage and its main thoroughfare, La Palma Avenue.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.83 square miles (4.7 km2). 1.8 square miles (4.7 km2) of it is land and 0.02 square miles (0.052 km2) of it (1.32%) is water. This makes it the smallest city in Orange County in terms of area.
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