How to Find the Best Trucker School near Fort Walton Beach Florida
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Fort Walton Beach FL. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Fort Walton Beach residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll receive the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Fort Walton Beach FL, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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 need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Fort Walton Beach FL trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Fort Walton Beach FL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested 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 calls for 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Fort Walton Beach FL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating 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 local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Florida licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must 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 proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Fort Walton Beach FL schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will provide plenty 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 operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Fort Walton Beach FL schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
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 be a driver 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 instead of having affiliations with numerous 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 freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Fort Walton Beach FL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Florida, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Florida testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Fort Walton Beach FL school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Fort Walton Beach FL employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Fort Walton Beach 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 evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Get CDL License Fort Walton Beach Florida
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Get CDL License and wanting information on the topic How To Get CDL A. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to look into 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 trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Fort Walton Beach FL.
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Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Fort Walton Beach is a city in southern Okaloosa County, Florida, United States. As of 2010, the population estimate for Fort Walton Beach was 19,507 recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau. It is the principal city of the Fort Walton Beach−Crestview−Destin Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Prehistoric settlement of Fort Walton Beach is attributed to the mound building "Fort Walton Culture" that flourished from approximately 1100~1550 AD. It is believed that this culture evolved out of the Weeden Island culture. Fort also appeared to come about due to contact with the major Mississippian centers to the north and west. It was the most complex in the north-west Florida region. The Fort Walton peoples put into practice mound building and intensive agriculture, made pottery in a variety of vessel shapes, and had hierarchical settlement patterns that reflected other Mississippian societies.
The first Europeans to set foot in what is now Okaloosa County and the Fort Walton Beach area were members of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca's party, who traveled by boat from what is now Panama City Beach, Florida in 1528 to Texas, "Then we set out to sea again, coasting towards the River of Palms. Every day our thirst and hunger increased because our supplies were giving out, as well as the water supply, for the pouches we had made from the legs of our horses soon became rotten and useless. From time to time we would enter some inlet or cove that reached very far inland, but we found them all shallow and dangerous, and so we navigated through them for thirty days, meeting sometimes Indians who fished and were poor and wretched people".
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