How to Enroll in the Right Truck Driver Classes near Marana Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Marana AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Marana home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to make certain you'll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master 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 select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address 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?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Marana AZ, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 needed to operate 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 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, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Marana AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Marana AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks 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 ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Marana AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior 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 department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention 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 be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Marana AZ schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's important 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 criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish lots of 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 essential training tools, they are no substitute 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 fluctuates among 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. Contact the Marana AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Marana AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Marana AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time 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 holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage 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 lower job placement rate or few Marana AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Marana AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Marana AZ CDL Training
Selecting the right truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new profession 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 many options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Marana AZ.