How to Choose the Best Trucking Classes near Defuniak Springs Florida
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Defuniak Springs FL. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Defuniak Springs home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll get the appropriate training. Just remember, 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 target 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 rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Defuniak Springs FL, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief 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 more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 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. 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 operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Defuniak Springs FL truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Defuniak Springs FL area are accredited because of 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 certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks 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 ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Defuniak Springs FL schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, 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 confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Florida and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly 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 comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Defuniak Springs 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 Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs between 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. Contact the Defuniak Springs FL schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive 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 rather than having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Defuniak Springs FL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Florida, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Florida testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Defuniak Springs FL school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an 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 holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Defuniak Springs FL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Defuniak Springs FL area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
How To Choose A Trucking School Defuniak Springs Florida
Choosing the right truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Choose A Trucking School and wanting information on the topic Driving School CDL. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Defuniak Springs FL.
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DeFuniak Springs, Florida
DeFuniak Springs is a city in Walton County, Florida, United States. The population was 5,089 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Walton County. In 2019, the MSN.com Insider Online named the city as the best small town in Florida.
The town was founded during the late 19th century as a resort development by the officers of the Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad, a subsidiary of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. The P&A was organized to connect the terminus of the L&N at Pensacola to the western terminus of a predecessor of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad at River Junction—now Chattahoochee—in the 1880s. The town was named after Frederick R. De Funiak, a vice-president of the L&N. Like much of Northwest Florida, DeFuniak Springs was settled mainly by Scots from Virginia and the Carolinas.
DeFuniak Springs was established as a final-destination resort. The developers enlisted the cooperation and aid of the Chautauqua Movement. The Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood, an auditorium seating 4,000, was constructed on Lake DeFuniak in the center of town. Seminars, classes, and the like were held in the Hall of Brotherhood building for people on vacation.