How to Select the Best Trucking School near Oro Valley Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Oro Valley AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Oro Valley residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you'll obtain the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss 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 Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Oro Valley AZ, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 CDL 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. 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Oro Valley AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are a few more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Oro Valley AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered 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 quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Oro Valley AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Oro Valley AZ schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of 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 vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors 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 quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will provide ample 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement 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 good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Oro Valley AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Oro Valley AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver 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 benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Oro Valley AZ school you select provides 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 teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Oro Valley AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Oro Valley AZ area vocational or trade 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 a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Oro Valley AZ Truck Driving Training
Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to consider 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 select an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Oro Valley AZ.