How to Pick the Right Truck Driver School near Sun City Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Sun City AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Sun City home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal method to make certain you'll obtain the proper education. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Sun City AZ, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance 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 Evaluate a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Sun City AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Sun City AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay 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 multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual instruction they will need. This is especially 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 relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Sun City AZ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 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 furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain 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 rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Sun City AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Sun City AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask 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 employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Sun City AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Sun City AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Select the Best Sun City AZ Truck Driving Training
Picking the right truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession 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 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 operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. 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 truck driver in Sun City AZ.