How to Find the Right Truck Driver School near San Luis Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near San Luis AZ. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your San Luis residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best method to make certain you'll receive the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and San Luis AZ, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic 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). Following are short summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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. 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 require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the San Luis AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the San Luis AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked 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 San Luis AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, 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 look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most San Luis AZ schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several 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 important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. 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 ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, 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. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the San Luis AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's important that the San Luis AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask 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 referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many San Luis AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other San Luis 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 reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right San Luis AZ Truck Driving Training
Picking the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large 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 reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in San Luis AZ.