How to Decide on a Truck Driving School near Willits California
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Willits CA. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Willits home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll get the proper education. Just remember, your objective 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 objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally in California and within the USA, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school near Willits CA, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 required 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 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 may also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Willits CA truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Willits CA truck driving schools are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive 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 program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks 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 business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Willits CA schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts 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? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in California and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual 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 time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Willits CA schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, 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 laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the Willits CA school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Willits CA schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from a number of Willits CA truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free 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 many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in California, ask if the Willits CA schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at California testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Willits CA school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared 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 fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career in Willits CA. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving 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 get through the options and forms that need to be completed in Willits CA.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Trucker?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to consider questions you might be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask truck driving applicants is "What compelled you to decide on trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the personal reasons you may have for becoming a truck driver, but additionally what characteristics and skills you have that make you outstanding at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining specifically to trucking, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready some strategies about how you want to address them. Because there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can respond to this primary question in a variety of ways. When readying an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession interests you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the perfiect choice for the job. Don't attempt to memorize a response, but take down several ideas and talking points that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.
Select the Ideal CDL School Willits CA
Picking the right trucking school is an important 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 shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Willits CA.
A Bit About Willits California
Willits (formerly Little Lake and Willitsville) is a city in Mendocino County, California, United States. Willits is located 20 miles (32 km) north-northwest of Ukiah, at an elevation of 1391 feet (424 m). The population was 4,888 at the 2010 census, down from 5,073 at the 2000 census. Willits is at the center of Mendocino County and at the beginning of the county's extensive redwood forests as approached by Highway 101 from the south.
An arch donated to the city by Reno, Nevada in 1995 stands in the center of town. The Arch is the repurposed second version of the Reno Arch, from which the City of Willits removed most of the original plastic panels and of which it replaced the star with the flag of the United States and the slogan of Reno with its own slogans "Gateway to the Redwoods" and "Heart of Mendocino County". It now straddles U.S. Route 101 in downtown Willits.
Located at the center of Mendocino County in the Little Lake Valley, 20 miles (32 km) north of Ukiah on U.S. Route 101 (otherwise known as the Redwood Highway). As of 2010, the city had a total area of 2.803 square miles (7.26 km2), 99.83% of it land.
The mountains to the west along with a significant influence of mild Pacific air cause Willits to have a cool winter and hot day/cool night summer climate. Average January temperatures range from 32 °F (0 °C) to 54.9 °F (12.7 °C). Average July temperatures range from 47.3 °F (8.5 °C) to 85.3 °F (29.6 °C). There are an average of 34.5 days with highs of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher, and an average of 80.3 days with lows of 32 °F (0 °C) or lower. The record maximum temperature was 118 °F (48 °C) on June 30, 2005, and the record minimum temperature was 3 °F (−16 °C) on December 9, 1972.
More Cities of Interest in California