How to Find the Best Truck Driving Classes near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Catalina Foothills AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Catalina Foothills home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to ensure you'll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Catalina Foothills AZ, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations for the two 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 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 required to operate 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. 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 may also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Catalina Foothills AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered 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 quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated 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 best of Catalina Foothills AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Catalina Foothills AZ schools offer 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 already stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few 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.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish lots of 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount 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 refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Catalina Foothills AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Catalina Foothills AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Catalina Foothills AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Best Catalina Foothills AZ Truck Driving Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Catalina Foothills AZ.