How to Find a Truck Driver School near Okahumpka Florida
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Okahumpka FL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Okahumpka home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to make sure you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, 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 purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Okahumpka FL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class 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). Following are brief 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. Some 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 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 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 might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Okahumpka FL trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Okahumpka FL 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 certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Okahumpka FL 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 history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt 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 should be licensed in Florida and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Okahumpka FL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide plenty 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard 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 Okahumpka FL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of 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 giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Okahumpka FL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Florida, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Florida testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Okahumpka FL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing 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 must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Okahumpka FL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Okahumpka FL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Okahumpka FL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Okahumpka Florida area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
As of the census of 2000, there were 251 people, 108 households, and 72 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 1,049.1 people per square mile (403.8/km²). There were 113 housing units at an average density of 472.3/sq mi (181.8/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 98.80% White, 0.80% African American, 0.40% from other races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.80% of the population.
There were 108 households out of which 26.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.4% were married couples living together, 14.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.3% were non-families. 25.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.74.
In the CDP, the population was spread out with 18.7% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 30.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 105.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 106.1 males.
Choose the Best Truck Driver School Okahumpka FL
Picking the right truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught 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. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Okahumpka FL.
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