How to Find a Truck Driving School near Richland South Carolina
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Richland SC. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Richland residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully in South Carolina and within the USA, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school near Richland SC, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 greater 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 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 need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Richland SC trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Richland SC truck driver schools are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Richland SC schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the South Carolina licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in South Carolina and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding 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 relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Richland SC schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the Richland SC school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will provide 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Richland SC schools you are researching 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 Richland SC trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of 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 be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in South Carolina, find out if the Richland SC schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at South Carolina testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Richland SC school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time 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 holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career in Richland SC. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted in Richland SC.
Why Did You Want to Become a Trucker?When preparing to interview for a Trucking position, it's helpful to reflect on questions you may be asked. Among the things that interviewers frequently ask truck driving applicants is "What compelled you to decide on trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is attempting to uncover is not merely the private reasons you may have for being a trucker, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you good at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating primarily to trucking, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you must ready some ideas about how you would like to address them. Considering there are several factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you along with the strengths you have that make you an exceptional truck driver and the best choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but write down some ideas and talking points that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample answers can assist you to formulate your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to discuss to wow the recruiter.
Select the Right Truck Driving School Richland SC
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might 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 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 obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Richland SC.
A Bit About Richland South Carolina
Richland County, South Carolina
Richland County is a county located in the U.S. state of South Carolina. As of the 2016 census, the population was 409,549, making it the second-most populous county in South Carolina, behind only Greenville County. The county seat and largest city is Columbia, the state capital. The county was founded in 1785.
Richland County is part of the Columbia, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area.
In 2010, the center of population of South Carolina was located in Richland County, in the city of Columbia.
Richland County was probably named for its "rich land." The county was formed in 1785 as part of the large Camden District. A small part of Richland later went to adjacent Kershaw County in 1791. The county seat and largest city is Columbia, which is also the state capital. In 1786 the state legislature decided to move the capital from Charleston to a more central location. A site was chosen in Richland County, which is in the geographic center of the state, and a new town was laid out. Richland County’s boundaries were formally incorporated on Dec. 18, 1799. Cotton from the surrounding plantations was shipped through Columbia and later manufactured into textiles there. General William T. Sherman captured Columbia during the Civil War, and his troops burned the town and parts of the county on February 17, 1865. The U. S. Army returned on more friendly terms in 1917, when Fort Jackson was established, which is now the largest and most active Initial Entry Training Center in the U.S. Army. The South Carolina State House is located in downtown Columbia.
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