How to Pick the Right Truck Driving School near Walterboro South Carolina
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Walterboro SC. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Walterboro home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll obtain the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Walterboro SC, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class 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). Below are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 operators may be able to drive 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 more 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 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 might also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Walterboro SC trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are several additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Walterboro SC area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, 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 Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Walterboro SC schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the South Carolina licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in South Carolina and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. 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 obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Walterboro SC schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several 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 crucial that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. 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 qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great 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 actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. 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 at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Walterboro SC schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations 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 work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Walterboro SC schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in South Carolina, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at South Carolina testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Walterboro SC school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask 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 lower job placement rate or not many Walterboro SC employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Walterboro SC area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Walterboro SC?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Walterboro South Carolina area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Walterboro, South Carolina
Walterboro is a city in Colleton County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 5,398 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Colleton County. Walterboro is located 48 miles (77 km) west of Charleston and is located near the ACE Basin region in the South Carolina Lowcountry. It is known as The Front Porch of the Lowcountry.
Walterboro (originally spelled "Walterborough") was founded in 1783 as a summer retreat for local planters looking to escape their malaria-ridden, Lowcountry plantations. The original settlement was located on a hilly area, covered with pine and hickory trees and named "Hickory Valley". Two of the earliest settlers were Paul and Jacob Walter. The two brothers owned plantations in nearby Jacksonboro. Paul's small daughter Mary was taken ill with malaria, a common disease amongst the families who built their plantations in the marshy areas of the Lowcountry, suitable to rice production. To save Mary's life the two brothers went looking for a more healthy location in which to live during the summer months and started the town that was later named for them. In 1817, Walterboro was named the third county seat of Colleton County, and has remained such until the present. This was followed by the construction of a county courthouse and jail in 1821, the courthouse being design by well-known architect Robert Mills. The town quickly spread out from the original Hickory Valley location, its population growth fueled successively by the town becoming the county seat in 1821, the establishment of a railroad line connecting the city with Columbia and Charleston in the 1880s, the establishment of an airfield in the 1930s and more recently the establishment of Interstate 95 in the 1960s, making the town a prime overnight stop on the road to Florida or New York.
In 1942, Walterboro became home to the Walterboro Army Air Field, a sub-base of Columbia Army Air Base and part of the overall network of army air training facilities that sprang up across the US during World War II. The base was established to provide advanced air combat training to fighter and bomber groups. It also hosted the largest camouflage school in the United States, as well as a 250-person prisoner of war camp. In 1944 the airfield changed commands and became an advanced combat training base for individual fighters, primarily the black trainees graduating from Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama. Over 500 of the famed Tuskegee Airmen trained at Walterboro Army Air Field between April 1944 and October 1945, including individuals training as replacement pilots for the 332nd Fighter Squadron and the entire 447th Bombardment Group. The base closed in October 1945 and returned to its origins as a local airfield.
CDL Training Schools Walterboro SC
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Training Schools. However, you must receive the appropriate 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 need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Walterboro SC.
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