How to Enroll in the Right Trucking School near Yuma Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Yuma AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Yuma home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to make sure you'll receive the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge 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? That is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Yuma AZ, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select 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). Below are brief summaries of the two 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 more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 needed 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucker School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Yuma AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole 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 some additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Yuma AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. 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 top Yuma AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Yuma AZ schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish ample 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 methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Yuma AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement 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 numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Yuma AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several 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 provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Yuma AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Yuma AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Yuma 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 evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Yuma AZ Truck Driving Training
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver 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 get your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Yuma AZ.