How to Choose the Best CDL Driving Classes near Sun City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Sun City AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Sun City home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll obtain the appropriate education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn 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 choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Sun City AZ, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Sun City AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Sun City AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Sun City AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Sun City AZ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though 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 vital that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Sun City AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Sun City AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Sun City AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Sun City AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Sun City AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Sun City AZ Truck Driving Training
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation 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 several options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Sun City AZ.