How to Pick a Truck Driver School near San Rafael California
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near San Rafael CA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your San Rafael home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best means to make certain you’ll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally in California and within the United States, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school near San Rafael CA, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind 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 descriptions for 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 more 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 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the San Rafael CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, 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 conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few San Rafael CA trucking schools are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top San Rafael CA schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the California licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes 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 requires time. The majority of San Rafael CA schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors 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 criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the San Rafael CA school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the San Rafael CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from some San Rafael CA trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in California, ask if the San Rafael CA schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at California testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the San Rafael CA school you choose provides 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 have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career in San Rafael CA. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted in San Rafael CA.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Tractor Trailer Operator?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's a good idea to consider questions you may be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask truck driving prospects is "What made you pick trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not only the private reasons you might have for being a trucker, but additionally what attributes and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, in addition to a certain number of typical interview questions, so you need to organize a number of approaches about how you want to address them. Given that there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a multitude of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as the talents you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the ideal choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down several concepts and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and provide ideas of what to discuss to enthuse the recruiter.
Choose the Right Truck Driving School San Rafael CA
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced 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 choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in San Rafael CA.
A Bit About San Rafael California
San Rafael, California
San Rafael (/ˌsæn rəˈfɛl/ SAN rə-FEL; Spanish pronunciation: [san rafaˈel]; "Saint Raphael") is a city and the county seat of Marin County, California, United States. The affluent city is located in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. As of the 2010 census the city's population is 57,713.
What is now San Rafael was once the site of several Coast Miwok villages: Awani-wi, near downtown San Rafael, Ewu, near Terra Linda and Shotomko-cha, in Marinwood.Mission San Rafael Arcángel was founded in what is now downtown San Rafael as the 20th Spanish mission in the colonial Mexican province of Alta California by three priests—Father Narciso Durán from Mission San José, Father Abella from Mission San Francisco de Asís, Father Luis Gíl y Taboada from La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles—on Dec. 14, 1817, four years before Mexico gained independence from Spain. Mission San Rafael Arcángel was located a donkey's day walk to the mission below it. The mission and the city are named after the Archangel Raphael, the Angel of Healing.
The mission was originally planned as a hospital site for Central Valley American Indians who had become ill at the cold San Francisco Mission Dolores. Father Luis Gil, who spoke several Native American languages, was put in charge of the facility. In part because of its ideal weather, San Rafael was later upgraded to full mission status in 1822. The mission had 300 converts within its first year, and 1,140 converts by 1828. The Mexican government took over the California missions in 1834, and Mission San Rafael was abandoned in 1844, eventually falling into ruin. The current mission was built in 1949 in the style of the original, but faces at right angles to the alignment of the original.
The San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad reached San Rafael in 1879 and was linked to the national rail network in 1888. The United States Navy operated a San Pablo Bay degaussing range from San Rafael through World War II.
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