How to Find the Right CDL Driving School near Bradenton Florida
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Bradenton FL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Bradenton home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely 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 knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick 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 Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Bradenton FL, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select 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 short summaries for the 2 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. 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 CDL is needed to drive 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Bradenton FL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Bradenton FL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, 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 course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Bradenton FL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Florida licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Florida and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Bradenton FL schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. 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 important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective 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 speak with a few of the students going through 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? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide sufficient 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark 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 Bradenton FL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with many different 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Bradenton FL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Florida, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Florida testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Bradenton FL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as 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 reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Bradenton FL employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Bradenton 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 evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
How To Be A Trucker Bradenton Florida
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Be A Trucker and wanting information on the topic Commercial Driver Training. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to consider 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 choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Bradenton FL.
Truck On in These Other Florida Locations
Bradenton (/ˈbreɪdəntən/ BRAY-dən-tən) is a city in Manatee County, Florida, United States. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's 2016 population to be 54,437. Bradenton is a principal city of the North Port–Sarasota–Bradenton metropolitan statistical area, which had a 2017 estimated population of 702,281. It is the county seat.
Bradenton (originally spelled "Braidentown" and then amended to "Bradentown") was established in 1842. The original town of Bradentown was incorporated in 1903. The city took the name of Dr. Joseph Braden, whose nearby fort-like house was a refuge for early settlers during Seminole Indian attacks. The current city of Bradenton was formed in 1943, when the Florida legislature merged the cities of Manatee (incorporated in 1888) and Bradentown.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Bradenton has a total area of 14.44 square miles (37.4 km2), of which 12.11 square miles (31.4 km2) is land and 2.33 square miles (6.0 km2) (16.14%) is water. Bradenton is located on US 41 between Tampa and Sarasota. The area is surrounded by waterways, both fresh and saltwater. Along the Gulf of Mexico and into Tampa Bay are over 20 miles (32 km) of Florida beaches, many of which are shaded by Australian pines. Bordered on the north by the Manatee River, Bradenton is located on the mainland and is separated from the outer barrier islands of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key by the Intracoastal Waterway.
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