How to Choose a Truck Driving School near Port Royal South Carolina
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Port Royal SC. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Port Royal home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to ensure you’ll get the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target 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 discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally in South Carolina and within the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school near Port Royal SC, we will focus on 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). Below are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 operate 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. 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 might also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Port Royal SC truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are some more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many Port Royal SC truck driver schools are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Port Royal SC schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the South Carolina licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in South Carolina and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next 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 receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Port Royal SC schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the Port Royal SC school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish sufficient 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Port Royal SC schools you are considering 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 Port Royal SC trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver 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 maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in South Carolina, find out if the Port Royal SC schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at South Carolina testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Port Royal SC school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career in Port Royal SC. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed in Port Royal SC.
Why Did You Want to Become a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking job, it's a good idea to review questions you may be asked. One of the questions that interviewers frequently ask truck driving candidates is "What made you select trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not only the private reasons you might have for becoming a trucker, but also what qualities and abilities you have that make you outstanding at what you do. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, in addition to a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must organize some strategies about how you would like to address them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When readying an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an excellent truck driver and the leading choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down several ideas and talking points that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Pick the Best Truck Driver School Port Royal SC
Choosing the right trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape 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. But first and foremost, you must obtain 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 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 choose an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Port Royal SC.
A Bit About Port Royal South Carolina
Port Royal, South Carolina
Port Royal is a town on Port Royal Island in Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. Largely because of annexation of surrounding areas (including Parris Island), the population of Port Royal rose from 3,950 in 2000 to 10,678 in 2010, a 170% increase. As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, Port Royal is included within the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC Metropolitan Statistical Area. Port Royal is home to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, and Naval Hospital Beaufort.
Port Royal takes its name from the adjacent Port Royal Sound, which was explored and named by Frenchman Jean Ribault in 1562. Ribault founded the short-lived settlement of Charlesfort on Parris Island. The area later became the site of a Spanish and still later Scottish colony during the 17th century.
Port Royal was the site of the Naval Battle of Port Royal during the Civil War. Later during the war, it was the one of the sites of the Port Royal Experiment, which included most of the Sea Islands in Union hands. In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was first read at Christmas under the Proclamation tree in Port Royal.
Due to the benefits of a large and sheltered natural harbor, Port Royal was able to develop port facilities to support the growing phosphate mining activities after the Civil War. The Port Royal Railroad was completed from Port Royal to a junction with the main Charleston and Savannah Railway in Yemassee, thus establishing a land route for trade and commerce. Development of a community around the previously isolated port site at the end of the Beaufort River and Battery Creek led to the platting of streets and town lots by development interests. A land rush ensued, and Port Royal was officially incorporated in 1874, 300 years after initial settlement efforts.
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