How to Find the Best Trucker Classes near San Tan Valley Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near San Tan Valley AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your San Tan Valley home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best way to guarantee you'll get the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified 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 cover in the rest 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 Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and San Tan Valley AZ, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select 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). Following are short summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 greater 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the San Tan Valley AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the San Tan Valley AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure 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. On the other hand, even the best of San Tan Valley AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. 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 individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of San Tan Valley AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though 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 crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the San Tan Valley AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified 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 instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the San Tan Valley 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 permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage 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 regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the San Tan Valley 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 commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. 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 national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few San Tan Valley AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other San Tan Valley 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 assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Best San Tan Valley AZ CDL Training
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new profession 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 many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in San Tan Valley AZ.