How to Decide on the Right CDL Driving School near Punta Gorda Florida
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Punta Gorda FL. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Punta Gorda residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best method to guarantee you’ll obtain the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams 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 discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Punta Gorda FL, an operator needs to attain 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 choose a truck driver 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 descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Punta Gorda FL truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Punta Gorda FL area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue 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 be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Punta Gorda FL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Florida licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Florida and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk 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 higher, then students will not be getting the personalized 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 professes it can train 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. The majority of Punta Gorda FL schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good standard 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 Punta Gorda FL schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Punta Gorda FL schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Florida, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Florida testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Punta Gorda FL school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Punta Gorda FL employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Punta Gorda 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 aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Punta Gorda FL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Punta Gorda Florida area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Punta Gorda, Florida
Punta Gorda (/ˌpʌntə ˈɡɔːrdə/; English: Fat Point) is a city in Charlotte County, Florida, United States. As of the 2010 census the city had a population of 16,641. It is the county seat of Charlotte County and the only incorporated municipality in the county. Punta Gorda is the principal city of the Punta Gorda, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area and is also in the Sarasota-Bradenton-Punta Gorda Combined Statistical Area.
Punta Gorda was the scene of massive destruction after Charley, a Category 4 hurricane, came through the city on August 13, 2004. Charley was the strongest tropical system to hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and the first hurricane since Hurricane Donna in 1960 to make a direct hit on Florida's southwest coast. In the immediate years following the storm, buildings were restored or built to hurricane-resistant building codes. The new buildings, restorations and amenities concurrently preserved the city's past while showcasing newer facilities. During this time, Laishley Park Municipal Marina was built and the Harborwalk, Linear Park and various trails were created throughout the city for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.
The name Punta Gorda ("Fat Point") has been on maps at least since 1851, referring to a point of land that juts into Charlotte Harbor, an estuary off the Gulf of Mexico. It was in the late 1800s that early settlers began to arrive in what is the present-day Punta Gorda area.
Class A Trucking School Punta Gorda FL
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is a critical 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 offered 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 Class A Trucking School. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might 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 enroll in an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Punta Gorda FL.
Keep On Trucking in These Other Florida Locations