How to Decide on the Best Trucking Classes near Sahuarita Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Sahuarita AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Sahuarita residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to make sure you'll get the right education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick 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 CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Sahuarita AZ, an operator needs to attain 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 kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 required 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. Some 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 need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Sahuarita AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Sahuarita AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Sahuarita AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal 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 professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Sahuarita AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Sahuarita AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Sahuarita AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd 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 advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Sahuarita AZ school you enroll in offers 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 teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out 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 low job placement rate or few Sahuarita AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Sahuarita AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Select the Right Sahuarita AZ Truck Driver Training
Selecting the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation 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 several options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Sahuarita AZ.