How to Choose the Right Trucker Classes near Lakewood California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Lakewood CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential 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 prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Lakewood residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best method to ensure you’ll get the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal 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 purpose 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 balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Lakewood CA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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. Some 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Lakewood CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Lakewood CA area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Lakewood CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the California licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and hire teachers 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 greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction 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 insists 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. Most Lakewood CA schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish ample driving time to its students. Besides, 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 important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Lakewood CA schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Lakewood CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Lakewood CA school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask 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 low job placement rate or few Lakewood CA employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Lakewood 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Tractor Trailer School Lakewood California
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Tractor Trailer School and wanting information on the topic Truck Driving Training Programs. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. 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 truck driver in Lakewood CA.
Truck On in These Other California Locations
Lakewood is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The population was 80,048 at the 2010 census. It is bordered by Long Beach on the west and south, Bellflower on the north, Cerritos on the northeast, Cypress on the east, and Hawaiian Gardens on the southeast. Major thoroughfares include Lakewood (SR 19), Bellflower, and Del Amo Boulevards and Carson and South Streets. The San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) runs through the city's eastern regions.
Sometimes called "an instant city" because of its origins, going from lima bean fields in 1950 to a well-developed city by 1960, Lakewood is a classic example of a post–World War II American suburb.
Lakewood is a post-World War II planned community. Developers Louis Boyar, Mark Taper and Ben Weingart are credited with "altering forever the map of Southern California." Begun in late 1949, the completion of the developers' plan in 1953 helped in the transformation of mass-produced housing from its early phases in the 1930s and 1940s to the reality of the 1950s.
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