How to Choose a CDL Driving School near Mendota California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Mendota CA. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important 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 final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Mendota residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to make certain you’ll get the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn 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 select a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully in California and within the USA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near Mendota CA, we will focus on Class A and 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 short summaries for 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. 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Mendota CA trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Mendota 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 a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Mendota CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the California licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. 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 getting the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Mendota CA schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the Mendota CA school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good 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 real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Mendota CA schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain Mendota CA truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in California, find out if the Mendota CA schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Mendota CA school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career in Mendota CA. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate 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 employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted in Mendota CA.
Why Did You Choose to Be a Trucker?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's helpful to review questions you may be asked. One of the things that hiring managers often ask truck driving candidates is "What made you decide on trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a truck driver, but also what attributes and skills you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to trucking, along with a certain number of routine interview questions, so you must organize several ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Considering there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an excellent truck driver and the ideal choice for the job. Don't try to memorize an answer, but take down several concepts and topics that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to formulate your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
Pick the Ideal Trucking School Mendota CA
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several 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 fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving 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 many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Mendota CA.
A Bit About Mendota California
Mendota is a U.S. city in Fresno County, California. The population was 11,014 at the 2010 U.S. Census. The State Routes 180 and 33 run through the agricultural city. Mendota is located 8.5 miles (14 km) south-southeast of Firebaugh, at an elevation of 174 feet (53 m).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total land area of 3.3 square miles (8.5 km2), over 99%. At the 2000 census, according to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total land area of 1.9 square miles (4.9 km2). It is located next to the San Joaquin River, near where the Delta-Mendota Canal intercepts it to bring extra water to the dry riverbed.
Beginning in 1891, Mendota thrived as a Southern Pacific Railroad storage and switching facility site. Southern Pacific management borrowed the name from Mendota, Illinois. The first post office opened in 1892. The city incorporated in 1942, and is mostly recognized for its immense production of cantaloupes. Consequently, the city of Mendota is identified as The Cantaloupe Center of the World. State water projects brought irrigation to the region, setting the stage for the tremendous growth of agriculture.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Mendota had a population of 11,014. The population density was 3,356.3 people per square mile (1,295.9/km²). The racial makeup of Mendota was 5,823 (52.9%) White, 107 (1.0%) African American, 153 (1.4%) Native American, 82 (0.7%) Asian, 5 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 4,465 (40.5%) from other races, and 379 (3.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10,643 persons (96.6%).
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