How to Choose the Best Trucking Classes near Sun City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Sun City AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Sun City residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the optimal means to make certain you'll receive the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance 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?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Sun City AZ, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person 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 highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 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 CDL is required to operate 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. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Sun City AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are some additional factors that you should 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 truck driving schools in the Sun City AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know 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 ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Sun City AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding 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 frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Sun City AZ schools offer 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 Teachers? As earlier stated, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few 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.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Sun City AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Sun City AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. 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 battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Sun City AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Sun City AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Sun City AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Right Sun City AZ Truck Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. 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 select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Sun City AZ.