How to Enroll in the Right CDL Driving School near San Luis Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near San Luis AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your San Luis residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal way to ensure you'll get the right education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and San Luis AZ, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one 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 address Class A and 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 descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 drive 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the San Luis AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the San Luis AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top San Luis AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of San Luis AZ schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though 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 current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish lots of 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable standard 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 San Luis AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the San Luis AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving 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 advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the San Luis AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty 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 holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few San Luis AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other San Luis AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. 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.
Select the Best San Luis AZ Truck Driver Training
Picking the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even 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 company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in San Luis AZ.