How to Select a CDL Driving School near Lake Arrowhead California
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Lake Arrowhead CA. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Lake Arrowhead residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to make sure you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge 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? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully in California and within the USA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school near Lake Arrowhead CA, we will focus on 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 explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 drive 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. A few 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 might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Lake Arrowhead CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Lake Arrowhead CA trucking schools are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Lake Arrowhead CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in California and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially 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 period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Lake Arrowhead CA schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the Lake Arrowhead CA school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few 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.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide sufficient 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard 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 Lake Arrowhead CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of Lake Arrowhead CA truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in California, ask if the Lake Arrowhead CA schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Lake Arrowhead 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 teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession in Lake Arrowhead CA. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask 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 referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating 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 Lake Arrowhead CA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Truck Driver?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to consider questions you may be asked. Among the questions that recruiters typically ask truck driving applicants is "What drove you to pick trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to discover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for being a trucker, but also what characteristics and abilities you possess that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to organize some approaches about how you would like to answer them. Since there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you along with the strengths you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the leading candidate for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but take down some concepts and topics that pertain to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can help you to prepare your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
Select the Ideal Trucking School Lake Arrowhead CA
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving 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 several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Lake Arrowhead CA.
A Bit About Lake Arrowhead California
Lake Arrowhead, California
Lake Arrowhead is an unincorporated community and a census-designated place (CDP) in the San Bernardino Mountains of San Bernardino County, California, within the San Bernardino National Forest, surrounding the Lake Arrowhead Reservoir. Lake Arrowhead consists of 6 communities including Lake Arrowhead, Twin Peaks, Blue Jay, Cedar Glen, Sky Forest, and Rim Forest. The population of the CDP was estimated at 12,424 in the 2010 census. It was formerly called "Little Bear Lake", until around 1920, when a group from Los Angeles, the Arrowhead Lake Company, bought the lake and the land surrounding it, and changed its name to Arrowhead Lake.
Tourism is the primary economic generator for the area, contributing several million dollars per year to the county and providing 600 full-time and 700 part-time jobs for local residents. The area is host to over 4 million visitors a year. There are 400 guestrooms in hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts, vacation cabin rentals, condos, and rustic cabin lodges and resorts. The Lake Arrowhead community is home to the Lake Arrowhead Country Club and Golf Course. The area is also popular for business conferences.
As a scenic mountain resort in the San Bernardino Mountains, Lake Arrowhead's economy is almost completely supported by tourism, both by casual vacationers and part-time residents. The primary tourism industries include real estate, lodging, dining, recreation, and retail sales.
While Lake Arrowhead has no official town center, the Lake Arrowhead Village serves as the main commercial area for both locals and tourists and includes a number of factory outlets, boutiques, restaurants, post office and a supermarket. Lake Arrowhead Village also hosts events all year long including a free Summer Concert Series, the county's largest free Oktoberfest and many other themed events such as car shows, dog shows, the Tour de Lake Arrowhead, Home Expo, and the popular Antique Wooden Boat Show.
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