How to Enroll in the Right CDL Training School near Watertown South Dakota
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Watertown SD. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Watertown residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to make certain you’ll receive the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge 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 choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Watertown SD, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class 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 short explanations of the two 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. Some 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 drive 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. Several 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, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Watertown SD truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Watertown SD area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Watertown SD schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the South Dakota licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in South Dakota and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. 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 personal instruction they will need. This is particularly 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 frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Watertown SD schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify 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 regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish ample 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Watertown SD schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Watertown SD schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide 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 available in South Dakota, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at South Dakota testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Watertown SD school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at 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 firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Watertown SD employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Watertown SD area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Watertown SD?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Watertown South Dakota area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Watertown, South Dakota
Watertown is a city in and the county seat of Codington County, South Dakota, United States. The population was 21,482 at the 2010 census. It is the fifth largest city in South Dakota. It is also the principal city of the Watertown Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Codington and Hamlin counties.
Watertown is home to the Redlin Art Center which houses many of the original art works produced by Terry Redlin, one of America's most popular wildlife artists. Watertown also is home to the Bramble Park Zoo and the Watertown Regional Library. The Watertown Public Opinion is a six-day daily newspaper published in Watertown.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.04 square miles (64.85 km2), of which, 17.45 square miles (45.20 km2) is land and 7.59 square miles (19.66 km2) is water. Watertown sits on the Big Sioux River and two major lakes, Pelican Lake and Lake Kampeska. Most of Watertown also sits upon a short plateau. Elevation at Watertown Regional Airport is 1,745 feet.
Class A CDL Training Watertown SD
Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Class A CDL Training. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want 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 select an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Watertown SD.
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