How to Decide on a Truck Driver School near Winterhaven California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Winterhaven CA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a big ole 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 receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to examine before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Winterhaven home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best method to make certain you’ll receive the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover 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 Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Winterhaven CA, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick 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 explanations for the 2 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 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 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Winterhaven CA truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Winterhaven CA area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Winterhaven CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker 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 teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Winterhaven CA schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Winterhaven CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with numerous 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 freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Winterhaven CA schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in California, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Winterhaven CA school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For 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 have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out 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 lower job placement rate or not many Winterhaven CA employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Winterhaven CA area technical or vocational 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 least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Winterhaven CA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Winterhaven California area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Winterhaven (formerly, Karmack) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Imperial County, California. Winterhaven is located 6.5 miles (10 km) east of Pilot Knob, The population was 394 at the 2010 census, down from 529 at the 2000 census. It is part of the 'El Centro, California Metropolitan Statistical Area'. North of Interstate 8 and bordering Yuma, Arizona, the town is partly located in the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation. The Colorado River marks the town's eastern border.
Telephone service is provided by Winterhaven Telephone Company, a subsidiary of TDS Telecom, and wired telephones in the area have numbers following the format (760) 572-xxxx. These numbers are assigned to subscribers in Winterhaven, Bard, and Felicity.
The communities of Bard and Felicity, California, appear in the US Geological Survey, National Geographic Names Database and the US Postal Service database and adjoin the community of Winterhaven. The communities of Felicity and Winterhaven share a ZIP code: 92283. Bard does not have postal delivery, and post office boxes for the community have a ZIP code of 92222.
Select the Ideal Trucking School Winterhaven CA
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession 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 vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to consider 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 choose an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Winterhaven CA.
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