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How to Enroll in the Best Trucker School near San Tan Valley Arizona

San Tan Valley Arizona tractor trailer on side of intestate roadCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near San Tan Valley AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your San Tan Valley home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll obtain the proper education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?

San Tan Valley Arizona cement mixing truck

To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and San Tan Valley AZ, an operator needs to get 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 choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions 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. 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 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 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 certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.

How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School

San Tan Valley Arizona CDL school campus

When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the San Tan Valley AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the San Tan Valley AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top San Tan Valley AZ schools had to start 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 employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.

How Good 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 teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting 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 relatively 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 offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful 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. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish sufficient 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the San Tan Valley AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified 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 relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive 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 CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 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 considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's important that the San Tan Valley AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many San Tan Valley AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are similar to 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. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.

Learn More About San Tan Valley Trucking Schools

Choose the Best San Tan Valley AZ CDL Training

Choosing the right truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical 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 safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select 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 regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in San Tan Valley AZ.