How to Select the Right CDL Driving School near Sahuarita Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Sahuarita AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you'll need to examine before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Sahuarita home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to make certain you'll get the right training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Sahuarita AZ, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver 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 focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are short summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 required to drive 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 operators may be qualified to drive 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucker School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Sahuarita AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized 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 if not more important. So below are a few additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Sahuarita AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Sahuarita AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Sahuarita AZ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers 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 level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, 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 essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Sahuarita AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. 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 remember to inquire if the Sahuarita AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Sahuarita AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Sahuarita AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Sahuarita AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Best Sahuarita AZ Truck Driving Training
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting 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 available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced 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 company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Sahuarita AZ.