How to Decide on a CDL Training School Winter Park Florida
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Winter Park FL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Winter Park residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. 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 decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Winter Park 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. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind 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 descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 CDL is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Winter Park FL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Winter Park FL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Winter Park FL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Florida licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Florida and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. 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 personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Winter Park FL schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough 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 essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Winter Park FL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff 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 reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Winter Park FL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Florida, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Florida testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s imperative that the Winter Park FL school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Winter Park FL employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Winter Park FL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Attending Truck Driving School near Winter Park FL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Winter Park Florida area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Winter Park, Florida
Winter Park is a suburban city in Orange County, Florida, United States. The population was 27,852 at the 2010 United States Census. It is part of the Orlando–Kissimmee–Sanford, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Winter Park was founded as a resort community by northern business magnates in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Its main street includes civic buildings, retail, art galleries, a private liberal arts college (Rollins College), museums, a park, a train station, a golf course country club, a historic cemetery, and a beach and boat launch.
The Winter Park area's first human residents were migrant Muscogee people who had earlier intermingled with the Choctaw and other indigenous people. In a process of ethnogenesis, the Native Americans formed a new culture which they called "Seminole", a derivative of the Mvskoke' (a Creek language) word simano-li, an adaptation of the Spanish cimarrón which means "wild" (in their case, "wild men"), or "runaway" [men]. The site was first inhabited by Europeans in 1858, when David Mizell Jr. bought an 8-acre (32,000 m2) homestead between Lakes Virginia, Mizell, and Berry. A settlement, called Lake View by the inhabitants, grew up around Mizell's plot. It got a post office and a new name—Osceola—in 1870.
Select the Ideal CDL School Winter Park FL
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate 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 lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Winter Park FL.
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