How to Select the Right Trucking Classes near Fortuna Foothills Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Fortuna Foothills AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Fortuna Foothills residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you'll receive the proper training. Just remember, your objective 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 target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Fortuna Foothills AZ, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three 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 select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate 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 needed 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. Several 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 need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucker School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Fortuna Foothills AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you should research while carrying out 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 Fortuna Foothills AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Fortuna Foothills AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially 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 be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Fortuna Foothills AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal 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 ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, 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 alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Fortuna Foothills AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive 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 maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Fortuna Foothills AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 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 offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Fortuna 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 teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at 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 firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Fortuna Foothills AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Fortuna Foothills AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Fortuna Foothills AZ CDL Driver Training
Picking the right truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want 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 enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, 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 an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Fortuna Foothills AZ.