How to Enroll in the Best CDL Training Classes near Panama City Beach Florida
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Panama City Beach FL. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Panama City Beach home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll obtain the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal 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 goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance 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 Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Panama City Beach FL, a driver must attain 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 driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 summaries 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 more 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 Commercial Drivers License is required 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Panama City Beach FL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are a few more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Panama City Beach FL area are accredited because of 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Panama City Beach FL schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Florida licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Florida and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Panama City Beach FL schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish plenty 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Panama City Beach FL schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Panama City Beach FL schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking 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 advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Florida testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Panama City Beach FL school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Panama City Beach FL employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Panama City Beach FL area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
CDL License Classes Panama City Beach Florida
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL License Classes and wanting information on the topic Truck Driver Trainer. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need 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 CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Panama City Beach FL.
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Panama City Beach, Florida
Panama City Beach is a resort town in Bay County, Florida, United States, on the Gulf of Mexico coast. As of the 2010 census it had a population of 12,018. The city is often referred to under the umbrella term of "Panama City". Panama City Beach's slogan is "The World's Most Beautiful Beaches" due to the unique, sugar-white sandy beaches of northwest Florida.
Panama City Beach has been a popular vacation destination, especially among people in the Southern United States. The city is also a very popular spring break destination, due to the popularity of the beach and its close proximity to most of the Southern United States, and relative proximity as a drive destination for the Midwest. The MTV show Floribama Shore was set in the city – Filming took place over the Summer of 2017.
A construction boom in the early to mid 2000s changed the image of the area due to the older homes and motels being replaced with high-rise condominiums and more expansive homes. However, this is turning unobstructed, low-rise beach views and affordable waterfront property into rarities. At the peak of the real estate boom, many beachfront properties had quadrupled or more in value since 2000. In November 2006 CNN/Money named Panama City Beach the No. 1 real estate market in America for the next five years in. Beachfront property has sold for upwards of $60,000 per "front foot" (linear foot) at the top of the market. The downturn in the U.S. real estate market in 2007, combined with a surge of new condo construction, brought spiraling prices somewhat under control. With the real estate boom, Panama City Beach became a well known destination for spring break.