How to Select a Truck Driving School near Wildwood Florida
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Wildwood FL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Wildwood home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Wildwood FL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick 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 summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Wildwood FL truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Wildwood FL area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Wildwood FL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent 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 verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Florida and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Wildwood FL schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers 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 criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will furnish ample 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Wildwood FL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Wildwood FL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Florida, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Florida testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Wildwood FL school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Wildwood FL employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Wildwood FL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Wildwood FL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Wildwood 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 3,924 people, 1,640 households, and 1,074 families residing in the city. The population density was 759.7 inhabitants per square mile (293.0/km2). There were 2,062 housing units at an average density of 399.2 per square mile (154.0/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 64.76% White, 32.93% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 0.97% from other races, and 1.10% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.42% of the population.
There were 1,640 households out of which 23.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 17.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.5% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.81.
In the city the population was spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 18.4% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 33.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females, there were 83.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.2 males.
Pick the Right Truck Driving School Wildwood FL
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to look into 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 CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Wildwood FL.
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