How to Find a Truck Driving School Westminster California
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Westminster CA. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Westminster home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll get the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That 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 Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Westminster CA, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 more 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 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 may also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Westminster CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Westminster CA area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Westminster CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following 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 attention they will need. This is especially 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 comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Westminster CA schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of 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 up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies 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. Contact the Westminster CA schools you are considering 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 certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of 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 giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Westminster CA schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in California, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Westminster CA school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Westminster CA employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Westminster 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 reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Westminster CA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Westminster California area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Westminster is a city in northern Orange County, California. It is known for a large number of Vietnamese refugees who immigrated to the city during the 1980s, settling largely in the area now officially named Little Saigon, and the city is unofficially known as the "capital" of overseas Vietnamese with 36,058 Vietnamese Americans and at 40.2% (2010), the highest municipal prevalence of Vietnamese Americans.
Westminster is landlocked and bordered by Seal Beach on the west, by Garden Grove on the north and east, and by Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley on the south. Santa Ana, the county seat of Orange County, is right next to Westminster on the east but is divided by a small part of Garden Grove.
Westminster was founded in 1870 by Rev. Lemuel Webber as a Presbyterian temperance colony. The name is derived from the Westminster Assembly of 1643, which established the basic tenets of the Presbyterian faith. During the early years of its history, farmers refused to harvest grapes since they associated grapes with alcohol.
Select the Ideal Truck Driver School Westminster CA
Picking the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation 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 available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might 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 school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Westminster CA.
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