How to Enroll in the Right Trucker Classes near Yuma Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Yuma AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you'll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Yuma home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal means to make certain you'll get the appropriate training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Yuma AZ, a driver needs to attain 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 pick a truck driver 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Yuma AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Yuma AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Yuma AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. 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 stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships 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 placement program for graduates. 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 compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Yuma AZ schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish ample 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Yuma AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive 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 instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Yuma AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 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. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend 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 fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Yuma AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Yuma AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Yuma AZ Truck Driver Training
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to look into 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 select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, 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 entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Yuma AZ.