How to Decide on a CDL Driving School Wilkesboro North Carolina
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Wilkesboro NC. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential 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 prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Wilkesboro residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to ensure you’ll obtain the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Wilkesboro NC, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight 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). Following are brief descriptions 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 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 needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 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 operate specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Wilkesboro NC truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Wilkesboro NC area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Wilkesboro NC schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the North Carolina licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in North Carolina and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Wilkesboro NC schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide sufficient 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Wilkesboro NC schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom 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 ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Wilkesboro NC schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in North Carolina, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at North Carolina testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Wilkesboro NC 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 devote 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Wilkesboro NC employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Wilkesboro NC area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Attending Truck Driving School near Wilkesboro NC?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Wilkesboro North Carolina area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
North Wilkesboro, North Carolina
North Wilkesboro is a town in Wilkes County, North Carolina, United States. The population was approximately 4,116 at the 2000 census and is now 4,245 as of the 2010 census. North Wilkesboro is the birthplace and original home of Lowe's Home Improvement, which continues to have a major presence in the community. The town is also known as one of the birthplaces of the sport of stock-car racing, and the North Wilkesboro Speedway was the first NASCAR-sanctioned track. Due to the town's proximity to the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains and the numerous tourist venues there, North Wilkesboro has been nicknamed the "Key to the Blue Ridge".
North Wilkesboro was founded in 1891 when the Norfolk and Southern Railroad built a railroad line into Wilkes County. The line ended on the northern bank of the Yadkin River opposite Wilkesboro, the county seat. The town of North Wilkesboro quickly developed around the railroad tracks. North Wilkesboro was the home of the Carolina Mirror Company, which for many years was the largest mirror factory in the United States. Although this is no longer the case, the town remains close to the industry through Gardner Glass Products Inc. Lowe's Foods, one of the Southeast's largest supermarket chains, was started in North Wilkesboro in 1954. Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, the nation's second-largest chain of home-improvement stores, was started in North Wilkesboro in 1946. Like many small towns and cities in rural North Carolina, North Wilkesboro has suffered since 1990 from the closing of nearly all of its textile and furniture factories, which have moved to low-wage locations in Latin America and Asia. The factories were a major part of the town's economic base. North Wilkesboro does continue to host large corporate offices including Gardner Glass Products Inc., Window World, and ECMD.
The North Wilkesboro Speedway, located just outside the city limits, predates the founding of NASCAR; the speedway held its first race on May 18, 1947 and from there it grew in popularity. On October 16, 1949, the Speedway held the 8th and final race of the 1949 NASCAR Strictly Stock Division; when the race was over Robert "Red" Byron had become the first NASCAR-sanctioned champion. The North Wilkesboro Speedway held NASCAR races for 50 years; on September 29, 1996 Jeff Gordon would win the final race to be held at the speedway. In 1995, following the death of the long-time owner and track founder Enoch Staley, the speedway was purchased by two new owners, Bob Bahre and Bruton Smith. Soon after their purchase, both men announced that they were closing the speedway and moving its two NASCAR race dates to their new tracks in Texas and New Hampshire. The decision met with strong criticism from race fans. Since 1996 several unsuccessful attempts have been made to purchase and reopen the speedway to racing.
Select the Best CDL School Wilkesboro NC
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds 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 enroll in an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Wilkesboro NC.
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