How to Enroll in the Best CDL Training School near Fortuna Foothills Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Fortuna Foothills AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Fortuna Foothills residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you'll receive the right education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That 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 CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Fortuna Foothills AZ, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss 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). Following are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 needed to operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Fortuna Foothills AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated 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 first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Fortuna Foothills AZ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish plenty 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 essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs between 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. Contact the Fortuna Foothills AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment 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 rather than maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Fortuna Foothills AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Fortuna Foothills AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty 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 needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received 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 contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national 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 grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Fortuna 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 a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Select the Best Fortuna Foothills AZ CDL Training
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical 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 short on cash or financing, you may 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 choose an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. 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 Fortuna Foothills AZ.