How to Pick the Right CDL Training Classes near Marana Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Marana AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Marana home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you'll obtain the appropriate training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Marana AZ, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Marana AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Marana AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Marana AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction 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 frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Marana AZ schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several 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 important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide plenty of 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important 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 can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 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 ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driver 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 instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Marana AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide 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 also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Marana AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote 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 commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Marana AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Marana AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best Marana AZ CDL Training
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered 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 large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Marana AZ.