How to Decide on a CDL Driving School White Lake South Dakota
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near White Lake SD. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to examine before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your White Lake residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal method to make certain you’ll obtain the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance 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 Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and White Lake SD, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 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 CDL is needed to operate 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. 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 require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the White Lake SD truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the White Lake SD area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator 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 usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of White Lake SD schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the South Dakota licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in South Dakota and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual attention 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 be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of White Lake SD schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. After all, 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the White Lake SD schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment 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 rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the White Lake SD schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in South Dakota, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at South Dakota testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the White Lake SD school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. 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 are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many White Lake SD employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other White Lake SD area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Attending Truck Driving School near White Lake SD?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the White Lake South Dakota area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
White Lake, South Dakota
As of the census of 2010, there were 372 people, 161 households, and 88 families residing in the city. The population density was 865.1 inhabitants per square mile (334.0/km2). There were 192 housing units at an average density of 446.5 per square mile (172.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.9% White, 1.1% African American, 0.3% Native American, 2.7% Asian, and 1.1% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.6% of the population. Since then there has been Hispanic families that had moved to White Lake, such as the Avila and Orozco/Gusan family.
There were 161 households of which 22.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.7% were married couples living together, 5.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 45.3% were non-families. 41.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 23.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.09 and the average family size was 2.83.
The median age in the city was 50.5 years. 21.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 5.6% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 15% were from 25 to 44; 28% were from 45 to 64; and 29.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 47.0% male and 53.0% female.
Choose the Ideal Truck Driver School White Lake SD
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving 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 affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in White Lake SD.
Other Awesome Locations in South Dakota