How to Pick the Right Truck Driver Classes near Sun City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Sun City AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you'll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Sun City home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best means to ensure you'll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose 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 talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Sun City AZ, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and 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). Following are short summaries for the two 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 greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 CDL is required 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. A few 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 may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Sun City AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Sun City AZ area are accredited due to 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given 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 training and curriculum will satisfy 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 business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Sun City AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider 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 graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain 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 be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors 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 obtaining the individual instruction 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Sun City 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 Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers 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 trucking school will furnish ample driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Sun City AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Sun City AZ schools you are considering 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 third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver 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 scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular 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 attending 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 received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Sun City AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Sun City 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Select the Best Sun City AZ Truck Driving Training
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning 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 several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Sun City AZ.