How to Pick the Right Truck Driving School near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Catalina Foothills AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Catalina Foothills residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you'll obtain the proper 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 objective in mind, just how do you decide on 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 talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Catalina Foothills AZ, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for the two 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 more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 greater 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school 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 Trucker School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Catalina Foothills AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Catalina Foothills AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Catalina Foothills AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish ample 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driver 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 relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Catalina Foothills AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit 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 fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Catalina Foothills AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Catalina Foothills AZ area trade or technical 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 aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Select the Best Catalina Foothills AZ CDL Training
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation 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 a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. 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 choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Catalina Foothills AZ.