How to Find a CDL Driving School near Valdosta Georgia
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Valdosta GA. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work 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 reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Valdosta residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best means to make certain you’ll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally in Georgia and within the USA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school near Valdosta GA, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries of 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. 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 operators may be qualified to drive 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 may also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Valdosta GA truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must 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 below are several additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Valdosta GA trucking schools are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Valdosta GA schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Georgia licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Georgia and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, 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 individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Valdosta GA schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential 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 qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date 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 pay a visit to the Valdosta GA school and speak with the teachers face to face. 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 ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Valdosta GA schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain Valdosta GA truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Georgia, find out if the Valdosta GA schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Georgia testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Valdosta GA school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career in Valdosta GA. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed in Valdosta GA.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Tractor Trailer Operator?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to review questions you could be asked. Among the things that hiring managers frequently ask truck driving applicants is "What made you select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not merely the personal reasons you may have for becoming a truck driver, but also what characteristics and skills you have that make you good at your profession. You will likely be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, in addition to a significant number of standard interview questions, so you need to ready several strategies about how you would like to respond to them. Given that there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the strengths you have that make you an excellent truck driver and the ideal candidate for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but take down a few concepts and topics that relate to your personal experiences and strengths. Going over sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the interviewer.
Select the Right Truck Driver School Valdosta GA
Choosing the right truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession 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 many options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Valdosta GA.
A Bit About Valdosta Georgia
Valdosta is a city in and the county seat of Lowndes County, located on the southern border of Georgia, United States. As of 2013, Valdosta has a total population of 56,481, and is the 14th largest city in Georgia.
Valdosta is the principal city of the Valdosta Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in 2010 had a population of 139,588. It includes part of Brooks County to the west.
Valdosta is the home of Valdosta State University, a regional university in the University System of Georgia with over 10,900 students. The local public Valdosta High School has the most winning football program of any high school in the United States.
Valdosta is called the Azalea City, as the plant grows in profusion there. The city hosts an annual Azalea Festival in March.
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