How to Decide on a Truck Driver School near Stockton Georgia
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Stockton GA. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Stockton home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to make certain you’ll receive the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder 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 Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Stockton GA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Stockton GA truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Stockton GA area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill 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 reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Stockton GA schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Georgia licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Georgia and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. 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 receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Stockton GA schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method 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 ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Stockton GA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Stockton GA schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. 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 competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Georgia testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Stockton GA school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Stockton GA employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Stockton GA area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Stockton GA?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Stockton Georgia area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
The Stockton Heat are a professional ice hockey team in the American Hockey League (AHL) which began play in the 2015–16 season. The team is based in Stockton, California, and is affiliated with the National Hockey League (NHL) Calgary Flames. The Heat plays its home games at Stockton Arena. It is a relocation of the Adirondack Flames, joining four other relocated AHL franchises in California that formed the basis for a Pacific Division.
On January 29, 2015, the Calgary Flames announced that they would be moving their AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Flames, to Stockton as one of five charter members of the AHL's new Pacific Division. The team held a name-the-team contest and announced the five finalists as the Blaze, Fire, Heat, Inferno and Scorch on February 24, 2015. The winning name was announced by the Calgary Flames on March 11.
In support of the new division's first season, the AHL played an outdoor game hosted by the Heat. The game, called the Golden State Hockey Rush, was the first AHL outdoor game to be held in California at Raley Field in West Sacramento on December 18, 2015. The Heat defeated the Bakersfield Condors 3–2 in front of 9,357 fans.
Pick the Right Truck Driver School Stockton GA
Choosing the right truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL 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 obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Stockton GA.
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