How to Choose a CDL Training School near Woodland California
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Woodland CA. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Woodland residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best method to guarantee you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge 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 discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Woodland CA, an operator needs to 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. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed 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. 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 might also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Woodland CA trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are some additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Woodland CA area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Woodland CA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the California licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in California and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Woodland CA schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Woodland CA schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Woodland CA schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in California, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at California testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Woodland CA school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Woodland CA employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Woodland CA area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Woodland CA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Woodland California area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Woodland is the county seat of Yolo County, California, located approximately 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Sacramento, and is a part of the Sacramento - Arden-Arcade - Roseville Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 55,468 at the 2010 census.
Woodland's origins trace back to 1850 when California gained its statehood and Yolo County was established. Since the town started growing in population and resources, it has not stopped. The area was well irrigated due to the efforts of James Moore, and this drew people out to try their hand at farming. The endeavor was successful as people found the soil in the area very fertile. The city gained a federal post office and the next year the county seat was moved from Washington (present day West Sacramento, California) to Woodland after Washington was flooded. The addition of a railroad line, the close proximity to Sacramento, and the more recent addition of Interstate 5, helped create a thriving city.
Before the settlement of the area by people of European descent, the Woodland area was inhabited by the Patwin, a subgroup of the Wintun Native Americans. There are two main groups of Patwin: River and Coastal Patwin. Woodland's indigenous roots stem from the River Patwin, who tended to stay closer to the Sacramento River, as opposed to the Coastal Patwin who lived in small valleys in hills and ranges. The Yolotoi, a tribelet of the Patwin, occupied area near Woodland, and settled a village northwest of Woodland and another close to present day Knights Landing. Although they didn't have a permanent settlement in present-day Woodland, it is believed that the River Patwin occupied the Woodland area in seasonal camps for hunting and seed gathering. The Yolotoi and their neighboring tribelets had a main trading trail which followed Cache Creek. The exchange of goods between the neighboring tribes of the Nomlaki to the north, the Nisenan to the east, and the Pomo to the west also served as a way of cultural and social interchange between all the tribes. The simultaneous enslavement and spread of disease through the Patwin by the Spanish missionaries had quickly taken dramatic effects; a malarial epidemic in 1830–33 and a smallpox epidemic in 1837 killed much of the surviving natives. However, it has been found that some of the first farm hands in the earliest farms in Woodland were the Patwin people.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Woodland CA
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession 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 offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter 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 Woodland CA.
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