How to Select a CDL Training School near Vernon Florida
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Vernon FL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important 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 consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Vernon residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal way to make sure you’ll obtain the right training. Don’t forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest 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?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Vernon FL, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 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 address Class A and 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). Below are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. 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 CDL is needed 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. 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 need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Vernon FL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Vernon FL area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Vernon FL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Florida licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Florida and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Vernon FL schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Vernon FL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide 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 refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Vernon FL schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third 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 provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Florida testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Vernon FL school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Make sure 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 poor job placement rate or few Vernon FL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Vernon FL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enrolling in a Truck Driving School near Vernon FL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Vernon Florida area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
The geographical center of Washington County, Florida, Vernon is named for George Washington's Virginia home, Mt. Vernon. The quaint, pioneer town was also the site of a major Indian settlement. Vernon held the county seat until 1927 when the seat was moved to Chipley. The move was approved by a margin of one vote.
Vernon became known as "nub city" in the 1950s and 1960s for a high number of limb loss insurance claims made in the area. Vernon was featured in the Errol Morris documentary film Vernon, Florida (produced in 1981) highlighting the eccentricities of the people who lived there. The movie angered many residents of the city and surrounding areas who felt the documentary portrayed Vernon in a negative light. Morris had originally intended to document on the "Nub City" aspect of the town, but re-focused his subject after claiming to receive death threats from residents. The area's history is exhibited at the Vernon Historical Society Museum in Vernon City Hall.
The city sits on the Holmes Creek where during the 1880s the creek was used as a shipping route to Bonifay and other nearby towns. The creek was also used to ship gopher tortoises due to the high value their shell carried at that time. The town gained infamy in the late 1950s and early 1960s due to the improbably high percentage of residents who put out insurance claims on lost limbs, to the point that many speculated that residents of the town were intentionally dismembering themselves for the insurance money. Although there is no real evidence to support these speculations, these insurance claims from Vernon, with a population of 500–800, accounted for as many as 2/3 of claims nationally. The town was referred to as "Nub City".
Pick the Right Trucking School Vernon FL
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold 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. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need 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 choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Vernon FL.
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