How to Decide on a Truck Driver School near Tullahoma Tennessee
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Tullahoma TN. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Tullahoma residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills 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 pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Tullahoma TN, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver 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 summaries for the 2 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. A few 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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. 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 drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Tullahoma TN trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Tullahoma TN area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed 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 best of Tullahoma TN schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Tennessee licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Tennessee and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next 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 getting the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Tullahoma TN schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Tullahoma TN schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement 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 associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Tullahoma TN schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? 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 Tennessee, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Tennessee testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Tullahoma TN school you select 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 willing to spend 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Tullahoma TN employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Tullahoma TN area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Tullahoma TN?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Tullahoma Tennessee area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Tullahoma is a city in Coffee and Franklin counties in southern Middle Tennessee. The population was 18,655 at the 2010 census. In 2014 the population was estimated to be 18,899. It is the principal city of the Tullahoma micropolitan area, which consists of Coffee, Franklin, and Moore counties and is the second largest micropolitan area in Tennessee.
An alternative explanation (see Sam Davis Elliott's Soldier of Tennessee and sources cited therein) of the name is that Peter Decherd, who donated the land for the railroad right-of-way (and was therefore given the right to name two stations along the line), named one station Decherd, after himself, and the other as Tulkahoma (later changed to Tullahoma). Tulkahoma was the name of Decherd's favorite horse, which had had named for a Choctaw chief who had been captured by Decherd's grandfather. (There was also a town of Tullahoma, Mississippi; that settlement later changed its name to Grenada.)
The earliest settlement was by farmers, mostly from Virginia and North Carolina. With the use of enslaved African Americans, they developed plantations for tobacco and hemp. Slaves also cared for their blooded livestock, both horses and cattle. Early settlers were Moore, Decherd/anglicized as Deckerd, Anderson, Ragon, Montgomery, Ferrell, Stephenson, and Gunn.
Choose the Ideal CDL School Tullahoma TN
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation 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 a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash 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 choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Tullahoma TN.
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