How to Select a Trucking School near Westminster California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Westminster CA. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Westminster home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to make certain you’ll get the right education. 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 objective in mind, just how do you decide on 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 talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally in California and within the USA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near Westminster CA, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 Commercial Drivers License 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 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 require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Westminster CA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Westminster CA truck driving schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Westminster CA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous 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 get in touch with the California licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in California and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next 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 obtaining the individual attention 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 insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Westminster CA schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s important 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 requirements to qualify 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 regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the Westminster CA school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark 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 Westminster CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of Westminster CA trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in California, find out if the Westminster CA schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Westminster CA school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher 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 needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career in Westminster CA. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads 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 few employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted in Westminster CA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Trucker?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's a good idea to consider questions you could be asked. Among the questions that interviewers typically ask truck driving prospects is "What drove you to pick trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not only the private reasons you may have for being a trucking operator, but additionally what attributes and talents you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, as well as a certain number of typical interview questions, so you should prepare some strategies about how you want to respond to them. Since there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the best choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down some ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample responses can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
Choose the Best Truck Driver School Westminster CA
Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain 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 consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Westminster CA.
A Bit About Westminster California
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 borders the unincorporated area of Midway City, except for a small portion where Midway City borders Huntington Beach on the south.
Westminster was founded in 1870 by Rev. Lemuel Webber as a Presbyterian temperance colony and was incorporated into Orange County, California in 1957.
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