How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driver School 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 ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you'll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Sun City home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the best method to make sure you'll get the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select 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 commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Sun City AZ, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 needed to drive 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. Some 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 operate certain types of vehicles, for example 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 drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Sun City AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Sun City AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure 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 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 qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker 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 cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion 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 look out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Sun City AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish plenty of 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Sun City AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Sun City AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Sun City AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Sun City AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? 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 aid being available. Find out 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 need to be completed.
Choose the Best Sun City AZ CDL Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate 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 forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many 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 trucker in Sun City AZ.