How to Decide on the Best CDL Training School near San Luis Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near San Luis AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you'll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your San Luis residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to ensure you'll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge 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? 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 commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and San Luis AZ, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions 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 greater 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 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the San Luis AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the San Luis AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly 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 begin from their first 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 job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most San Luis AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the San Luis AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different 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 have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the San Luis AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the San Luis AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many San Luis AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other San Luis AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Right San Luis AZ CDL Driver Training
Choosing the right truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets 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 critical to a new driver's success. However, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in San Luis AZ.