How to Decide on a Truck Driving School near Stephens Georgia
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Stephens GA. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Stephens residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal method to make certain you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover 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 Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Stephens GA, an operator needs to get 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 pick a truck driving school, we will focus on 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 brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Stephens GA truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Stephens GA area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. 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 Stephens GA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Georgia licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Georgia and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual 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 train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Stephens GA schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Stephens GA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff 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 beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Stephens GA schools you are looking at are independent or captive 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 trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Georgia, 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 from other schools for test times at Georgia testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? 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 Stephens GA school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an 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 are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. 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, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Stephens GA employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Stephens GA area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Stephens GA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Stephens Georgia area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Stephens County, Georgia
Originally inhabited by Mississippi Indian mound builders and then by Cherokee Indians, the first non-Indians in the area were Revolutionary War veterans who migrated up the Savannah River and the Tugaloo River after the war. Created on August 18, 1905 from parts of Franklin County and Habersham County, the county is named for Alexander Stephens, U.S. representative, Vice President of the Confederate States of America, and fifty-third governor of Georgia.
The northern half of Stephens County is located in the Tugaloo River sub-basin of the Savannah River basin, while the southern half of the county is located in the Broad River sub-basin of the same Savannah River basin.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 26,175 people, 10,289 households, and 7,236 families residing in the county. The population density was 146.1 inhabitants per square mile (56.4/km2). There were 12,662 housing units at an average density of 70.7 per square mile (27.3/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 85.1% white, 10.9% black or African American, 0.7% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 0.1% Pacific islander, 1.0% from other races, and 2.0% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 2.4% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 14.7% were American, 9.1% were Irish, 8.1% were German, and 7.4% were English.
Choose the Best CDL School Stephens GA
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Stephens GA.
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