How to Find a Trucking School near Clearlake Oaks California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Clearlake Oaks CA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Clearlake Oaks home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to ensure you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in California and within the USA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Clearlake Oaks CA, we will address Class A and Class 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 summaries of 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 more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate 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 need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
After you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Clearlake Oaks CA truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Clearlake Oaks CA trucking schools are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Clearlake Oaks CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the California licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in California and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, 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 look out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Clearlake Oaks CA schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor 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 instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the Clearlake Oaks CA school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Clearlake Oaks CA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain Clearlake Oaks CA truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different 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 giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. 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 receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in California, find out if the Clearlake Oaks CA schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Clearlake Oaks CA school you enroll in 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 spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career in Clearlake Oaks CA. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed in Clearlake Oaks CA.
Why Did You Want to Be a Truck Driver?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking job, it's important to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask truck driving prospects is "What drove you to pick trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a trucker, but also what characteristics and talents you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will undoubtedly be asked questions relating specifically to trucking, in addition to a significant number of typical interview questions, so you need to organize a number of strategies about how you want to address them. Since there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you in addition to the abilities you have that make you an excellent truck driver and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down a few ideas and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Going over sample answers can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to wow the interviewer.
Select the Best Truck Driving School Clearlake Oaks CA
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation 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 a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Clearlake Oaks CA.
A Bit About Clearlake Oaks California
Clearlake Oaks, California
Clearlake Oaks is a census-designated place (CDP) in Lake County, California, United States. It is located on the extreme south east of Clear Lake, 13 miles (20.8 km) east-southeast of Lakeport, at an elevation of 1,335 feet (407 m). The population was 2,359 at the 2010 census, down from 2,402 at the 2000 census.
The community was formerly named Stubbs and Clear Lake Oaks.
The site of the original town, inland of State Route 20, was subdivided by the 1920s. Situated in a broad canyon mouth, the original town site is about 4 blocks long and 3 deep, triangular in shape, with a plaza site in its center. Today the plaza is paved and used for parking by the church located along the west side. Most of the homes in the village remain true to their "fishing cottage" roots.
The Stubbs post office opened in 1926, and changed its name to Clearlake Oaks in 1935. The name Stubbs honored Charles Stubbs, local landowner. The relocation of the post office, the aging population, and the coming of Wal-Mart have combined to kill the "downtown". Fifteen years ago, there were two markets, a chain hardware store, two gas stations, video store, salon, and several restaurants and bars. A privately operated marina had fish and ski boats for rent. But by the late nineties, Clearlake Oaks was down to one market, one convenience store, and a struggling antique store.
More Cities of Interest in California