How to Enroll in 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 highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you'll want to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your San Luis home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to ensure you'll receive the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and San Luis AZ, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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 summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 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 CDL is needed 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. 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 drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the San Luis AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are a few additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the San Luis AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally 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 several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
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 discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training 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, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the San Luis AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the San Luis AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the San Luis 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 instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Make sure 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, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few San Luis AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other San Luis AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Select the Right San Luis AZ CDL Training
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local 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 offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to look into 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 choose an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in San Luis AZ.