How to Find a Truck Driving School near Scenic South Dakota
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Scenic SD. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to examine before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Scenic home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to make certain you’ll receive the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations 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 discuss 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 Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Scenic SD, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and 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 short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate 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 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 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. A few 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 require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Scenic SD truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Scenic SD area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 standards 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 poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Scenic SD schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the South Dakota licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in South Dakota and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. 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 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 frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Scenic SD schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through 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? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. 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 a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Scenic SD schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Scenic SD schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in South Dakota, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at South Dakota testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Scenic SD school you select provides 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 commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Scenic SD employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Scenic SD area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Scenic SD?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Scenic South Dakota area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Scenic, South Dakota
Scenic is an unincorporated community in Pennington County, South Dakota, United States. It is located within Scenic Township, which had a 2010 census population of 58 inhabitants. The community is located adjacent to the Badlands National Park, about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Rapid City, or about one hour by car, along Highway 44.
In July 2011, the 12-acre (4.9 ha) town and surrounding area—about 46 acres (19 ha) total—was listed for sale at $799,000. The sale includes the post office (ZIP code 57780), Longhorn Saloon, a dance hall, bunkhouse, museum, and two stores. It also includes a train depot that is on an abandoned line that was part of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad and is the subject of a 104-mile (167 km) rails-to-trail project between Rapid City and Kadoka.
In August 2011, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC, English: Church of Christ), an independent, nontrinitarian Christian denomination based in the Philippines, bought the property for nearly $800,000, Pennington County records show. The church never disclosed why it acquired the property. In 2014, Daniel Simmons-Ritchie of the Rapid City Journal wrote that the INC "has done little with the town since its purchase."
Select the Right Truck Driver School Scenic SD
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking 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 choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Scenic SD.
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