How to Choose the Right Truck Driver School near Port Saint Joe Florida
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Port Saint Joe FL. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Port Saint Joe home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best method to guarantee you’ll get the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover 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 Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Port Saint Joe FL, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Port Saint Joe FL truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Port Saint Joe FL area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Port Saint Joe FL schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Florida licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Florida and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Port Saint Joe FL schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though 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 vital that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Port Saint Joe FL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Port Saint Joe FL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Florida, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Florida testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Port Saint Joe FL school you choose provides 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 devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance 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 referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Port Saint Joe FL employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Port Saint Joe FL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Port Saint Joe FL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Port Saint Joe Florida area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Port St. Joe, Florida
Port St. Joe is a city located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 98 and State Road 71 in Gulf County, Florida, United States. As of the 2010 census the population was 3,445. This was a decline from 3,644 as of the 2000 census. Port St. Joe is the county seat of Gulf County.
St. Joseph was founded in 1835 by businessmen from nearby Apalachicola, which was troubled by legal conflict over land titles. It was mostly abandoned in 1841 after a yellow fever epidemic; a storm surge produced by a hurricane in 1844 destroyed what structures remained. In the early 20th century a new settlement was founded close to the original after the arrival of the Apalachicola Northern Railroad in 1909. It appears that the more informal "Port St. Joe" was adopted for official use around this time.
Port St. Joe is located in southern Gulf County at 29°48′29″N 85°17′52″W / 29.80806°N 85.29778°W / 29.80806; -85.29778 (29.807968, -85.297684), within the Florida Panhandle and along the Emerald Coast. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 12.1 square miles (31.3 km2), of which 9.5 square miles (24.5 km2) is land and 2.6 square miles (6.8 km2), or 21.86%, is water. The city limits extend into St. Joseph Bay, an arm of the Gulf of Mexico.
How To Obtain a Class B License Port Saint Joe FL
Picking the right truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Obtain a Class B License. However, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Port Saint Joe FL.
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