How to Enroll in the Right Truck Driver Classes near Oxford Florida
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Oxford FL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Oxford home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to ensure you’ll get the right training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance 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 Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Oxford FL, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and 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). Following are short explanations 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. 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 CDL is needed to operate 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. Several 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 need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Oxford FL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Oxford FL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Oxford FL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. 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 numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Florida licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Florida and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors 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 getting the individual instruction 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 teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Oxford FL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers 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.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great 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 actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement 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 fluctuates 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. Get in touch with the Oxford FL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Oxford 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 allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Florida, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Florida testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Oxford 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 prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Oxford FL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Oxford FL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Tractor Trailer School Oxford Florida
Choosing the right trucking school is a critical 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 mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Tractor Trailer School and wanting information on the topic Truck Driving Training Programs. However, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Oxford FL.
Truck On in These Other Florida Locations
Oxford is bordered by Wildwood to the south, rural Sumter County to the west, the Marion County line to the north, and The Villages to the east. It is located along U.S. 301 and the CSX Wildwood Subdivision, which is part of the CSX S-Line. The main intersections are with County Road 466 and a lesser intersection with County Road 472 exists south of there.
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