How to Find the Right Trucking School near Sun City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Sun City AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Sun City home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to make certain you'll receive the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations 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 address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review 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 Sun City AZ, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify 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 address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 needed to operate 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. Several 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 need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Sun City AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Sun City AZ area are accredited because of the stringent 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of 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 real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Sun City AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially 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 drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Sun City AZ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real 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 good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Sun City AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities 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 contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at 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 facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Sun City AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Sun City AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are similar 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. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Best Sun City AZ CDL Driver Training
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want 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 the freedom to drive for the trucking firm 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 soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Sun City AZ.