How to Choose a Trucking School near Woodland Hills California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Woodland Hills CA. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Woodland Hills residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Woodland Hills CA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply 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 discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are brief summaries for the two 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 more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 required 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Woodland Hills CA truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Woodland Hills CA area are accredited because of the rigorous 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 several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Woodland Hills CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the California licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in California and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Woodland Hills CA schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through 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, an excellent truck driver school will provide plenty of 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Woodland Hills CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? 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 what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Woodland Hills CA schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in California, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Woodland Hills CA school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement 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 placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Woodland Hills CA employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Woodland Hills CA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask 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 must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Woodland Hills CA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Woodland Hills California area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles
Woodland Hills is an affluent neighborhood in the southwestern region of the San Fernando Valley which is located east of Calabasas and west of Tarzana. On the north it is bordered by West Hills, Canoga Park, and Winnetka, and on the south by the Santa Monica mountains.
Some neighborhoods are in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains. Running east–west through the community are U.S. Route 101 (Ventura Freeway) and Ventura Boulevard, whose western terminus is at Valley Circle Boulevard in Woodland Hills.
The area was inhabited for approximately 8,000 years by Native Americans of the Fernandeño-Tataviam and Chumash-Venturaño tribes that lived in the Santa Monica Mountains and Simi Hills and close to the Arroyo Calabasas (Calabasas Creek) tributary of the Los Angeles River in present-day Woodland Hills. The first Europeans to enter the San Fernando Valley were the Portola Expedition in 1769, exploring 'Alta California' for Spanish missions and settlements locations. Seeing it from present-day Sepulveda Pass, the oak savanna inspired them to call the area El Valle de Santa Catalina de Bononia de Los Encinos (Valley of St. Catherine of Bononia of the Oaks). The Mission San Fernando Rey de España (Mission San Fernando) was established in 1797 and controlled the Valley's land, including future Woodland Hills.
Select the Right Truck Driving School Woodland Hills CA
Choosing the right truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to consider 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 choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Woodland Hills CA.
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