Become a Truck Driver | Truck Driving Schools La Crosse FL

How to Select a CDL Driving School near La Crosse Florida

La Crosse FL truck driving school campusCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near La Crosse FL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your La Crosse residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to ensure you’ll obtain the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target 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 rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?

long haul tractor trailer in La Crosse FLTo operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and La Crosse FL, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class 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 brief summaries for the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate 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 greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.

How to Evaluate a CDL School

Questions to ask La Crosse FL truck driving schoolsWhen you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the La Crosse FL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the La Crosse FL area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain 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 calls for 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top La Crosse FL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Florida licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.

How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Florida and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of La Crosse FL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the La Crosse FL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the La Crosse FL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Florida, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Florida testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s essential that the La Crosse FL 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 instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while going to 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 attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few La Crosse FL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other La Crosse FL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.

Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near La Crosse FL?

If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the La Crosse Florida area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.

LaCrosse, Florida

LaCrosse is a town in Alachua County, Florida, United States, 15 miles (24 km) north of Gainesville. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 360,[5] up from 143 in 2000. The area around LaCrosse is devoted to agriculture, especially potatoes; the area is known as the "Potato District." Other products of the area include tobacco, vegetables, and cattle.

LaCrosse was an agricultural village by 1860, in an area mostly given over to cotton farming at the time. A post office was opened in LaCrosse in 1881, LaCrosse Missionary Baptist Church was established in 1884 and LaCrosse was incorporated as a town on 17 December 1897.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 4.4 square miles (11.5 km2), of which 4.4 square miles (11.3 km2) is land and 0.077 square miles (0.2 km2), or 1.61%, is water.[5]

Choose the Best Truck Driving School La Crosse FL

tractor trailer hauling construction materials in La Crosse FLPicking the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in La Crosse FL.

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