How to Pick a Truck Driving School near Winter Springs Florida
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Winter Springs FL. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to examine before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Winter Springs residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best means to guarantee you’ll get the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow 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 CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Winter Springs FL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver 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 as well as 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 required to operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Winter Springs FL trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Winter Springs FL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Winter Springs FL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Florida licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Florida and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio 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 particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Winter Springs FL schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 he or she will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Winter Springs FL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Winter Springs FL schools you are looking at are captive or independent 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 trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed 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 facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s imperative that the Winter Springs FL school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For 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 working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Winter Springs FL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Winter Springs FL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance 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 Winter Springs FL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Winter Springs Florida area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Winter Springs, Florida
Winter Springs is a city in Seminole County, Florida, United States. The population was 33,282 at the 2010 census. According to the 2013 Census Bureau estimates, the city has a population of 33,871. It is part of the Orlando–Kissimmee–Sanford Metropolitan Statistical Area.
As of the census of 2000, there were 31,666 people, 11,774 households, and 8,901 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,207.3 inhabitants per square mile (852.0/km²). There were 12,306 housing units at an average density of 857.8 per square mile (331.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 88.73% White, 4.59% African American, 0.19% Native American, 1.94% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.52% from other races, and 1.99% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.52% of the population. There is a Jewish community.
There were 11,774 households out of which 38.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.2% were married couples living together, 11.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.4% were non-families. 18.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.08.
Choose the Right CDL School Winter Springs FL
Selecting the right trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession 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. Most importantly, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, 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 a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Winter Springs FL.
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