How to Find the Right CDL Training Classes 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 goal to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you'll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your San Luis home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you'll get the appropriate education. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and San Luis AZ, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type 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 explanations of the two 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. 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 needed to operate 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. A few 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the San Luis AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the San Luis AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top San Luis AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is especially 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 comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of San Luis AZ schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor 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 instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will provide ample 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the San Luis AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the San Luis AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of 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 noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the San Luis AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few San Luis AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving 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 aid 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.
Choose the Best San Luis AZ Truck Driving Training
Choosing the right trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in San Luis AZ.