How to Select a Truck Driving School near Seneca South Dakota
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Seneca SD. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Seneca home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll receive the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal 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 rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Seneca SD, an operator needs to attain 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 select a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type 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 for 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 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Seneca SD truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Seneca SD area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will comply with 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 business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Seneca SD schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the South Dakota licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in South Dakota and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding 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 time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Seneca SD schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Seneca SD schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement 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 a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Seneca SD schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in South Dakota, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at South Dakota testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Seneca SD school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. 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 are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Seneca SD employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Seneca SD area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Seneca SD?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Seneca South Dakota area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Seneca, South Dakota
As of the census of 2010, there were 38 people, 16 households, and 11 families residing in the town. The population density was 90.5 inhabitants per square mile (34.9/km2). There were 29 housing units at an average density of 69.0 per square mile (26.6/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 97.4% White and 2.6% Asian. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.2% of the population.
There were 16 households of which 31.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.8% were married couples living together, and 31.3% were non-families. 31.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.00.
The median age in the town was 48 years. 23.7% of residents were under the age of 18; 2.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 13.1% were from 25 to 44; 39.5% were from 45 to 64; and 21.1% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 52.6% male and 47.4% female.
Pick the Right Truck Driver School Seneca SD
Picking the right trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Seneca SD.
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