How to Find the Best Trucking Classes near Casa Grande Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Casa Grande AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you'll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Casa Grande residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you'll obtain the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Casa Grande AZ, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can apply 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 highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 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. A few 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 might also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Casa Grande AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Casa Grande AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense 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 several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Casa Grande AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Casa Grande AZ schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide sufficient 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Casa Grande AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Casa Grande AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there 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 permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Casa Grande AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Casa Grande AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Casa Grande AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Right Casa Grande AZ CDL Training
Selecting the right truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation 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 critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to look into 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 enroll in an independent CDL 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 regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Casa Grande AZ.