How to Select the Best CDL Driving Classes near Apache Junction Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Apache Junction AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Apache Junction residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to make sure you'll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Apache Junction AZ, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Apache Junction AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Apache Junction AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Apache Junction AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, 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 watch out for any school that professes 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 skillfully takes time. The majority of Apache Junction AZ 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 Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential 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 become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Apache Junction AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific 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 place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Apache Junction AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Apache Junction AZ 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 teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Apache Junction AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Apache Junction AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Apache Junction AZ CDL Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must get the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to look into 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 the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Apache Junction AZ.