How to Select a Truck Driver School near Weston Florida
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Weston FL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Weston home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Don’t forget, 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 choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Weston FL, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify 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 discuss 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). Below are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 required 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Weston FL trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Weston FL area are accredited due to the rigorous 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Weston FL schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, 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 Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Florida and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss 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 greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Weston FL schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Weston FL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free 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 starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Weston FL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Florida, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Florida testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Weston FL school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads 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 Weston FL employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Weston FL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid 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.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Weston FL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Weston Florida area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Weston is a master planned suburban community in Broward County, Florida, United States. Established as a city in 1996, much of the community was developed by Arvida/JMB Realty (known for developing Walt Disney World) and is located near the western developmental boundary of Broward County. It is the most western city in Broward County, and its entire west side is next to the Everglades. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 65,333. Weston is a principal city of the Miami metropolitan area, which was home to an estimated 6,012,331 people at the 2015 census.
In 2010, Money magazine ranked Weston 19th in America in the "Biggest Earners" category, with a median family income of $119,689. In 2006, it was ranked as the city with the largest job growth in Florida and 18th largest in the nation.BusinessWeek ranked Weston as one of the "best affordable suburbs" in the United States in November 2006.
Weston consistently ranks high annually in CNN Money magazine's "Biggest Earners" category. In 2008, Money magazine ranked Weston as the 73rd best place to live in America, making it the best place to live in the state of Florida. In 2012, Weston moved up eleven slots to the 62nd best place to live in America, once again topping the list in the state of Florida. It was recently named by Family Circle Magazine one of the Ten Best Towns for Families for 2015. In February 2018, the City of Weston was ranked #8 in the Top 100 Safest Cities in the U.S. by NeighborhoodScout.
Select the Right CDL School Weston FL
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. Most importantly, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Weston FL.
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