How to Choose a Truck Driver School near El Segundo California
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near El Segundo CA. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your El Segundo home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully in California and within the United States, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near El Segundo CA, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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. Several 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the El Segundo CA trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many El Segundo CA truck driver schools are accredited due to the stringent 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 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 be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top El Segundo CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the California licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching 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 trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher 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 watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of El Segundo CA schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the El Segundo CA school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out 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 trucking school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, 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 important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the El Segundo CA schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of El Segundo CA truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in California, ask if the El Segundo CA schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the El Segundo CA school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession in El Segundo CA. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted in El Segundo CA.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Tractor Trailer Operator?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking job, it's a good idea to review questions you might be asked. One of the things that recruiters frequently ask truck driving prospects is "What drove you to select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not merely the private reasons you may have for becoming a trucking operator, but additionally what qualities and talents you possess that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, along with a significant number of typical interview questions, so you must organize a number of approaches about how you would like to address them. Because there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the strengths you have that make you an excellent truck driver and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but write down several concepts and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the interviewer.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driving School El Segundo CA
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need 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 option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in El Segundo CA.
A Bit About El Segundo California
El Segundo, California
El Segundo is a suburban city of Los Angeles located in Los Angeles County, California, United States. El Segundo, from Spanish, means "The Second" in English. Located on the Santa Monica Bay, it was incorporated on January 18, 1917, and part of the South Bay Cities Council of Governments. The population was 16,654 at the 2010 census, slightly up from 16,033 at the 2000 census.
The El Segundo and Los Angeles coastal area was first settled by the Tongva (or Gabrieleños) and Chumash Native American tribes hundreds of years ago. The area was once a part of Rancho Sausal Redondo ("Round Willow Patch Ranch"). Rancho Sausal Redondo extended from Playa Del Rey in the North to Redondo Beach in the South. Originally a Mexican land grant owned by Antonio Ygnacio Avila, the rancho was later purchased by a Scottish baronet named Sir Robert Burnett. After his return to Scotland, the property was purchased by then current manager of the rancho, Daniel Freeman. Daniel Freeman sold portions of the rancho to multiple owners. George H. Peck owned the 840 acres (3.4 km2) of land the Chevron Refinery now sits on. Peck also developed land in neighboring El Porto where a street still bears his name. The city earned its name ("the second" in Spanish) as it was the site of the second Standard Oil refinery on the West Coast (the first was at Richmond in Northern California), when Standard Oil of California purchased the 840 acres (3.4 km2) of farm land in 1911.
The company was renamed Chevron in 1984, and the El Segundo refinery has entered its second century of operation. The city was incorporated in 1917.
The Douglas Aircraft Company plant in El Segundo was one of the major aircraft manufacturing facilities in California during World War II. It was one of the major producers of SBD Dauntless dive bombers, which achieved fame in the Battle of Midway. The facility, now operated by Northrop Grumman, is still an aircraft plant.
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