How to Pick the Right Truck Driving Classes near Yuma Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Yuma AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you'll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Yuma residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you'll obtain the proper education. Don't forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Yuma AZ, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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. 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Yuma AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for example 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 need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Yuma AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common 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 quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Yuma AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, 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 confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
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 talk more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention 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 period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Yuma AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide sufficient 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Yuma AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to 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 restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Yuma AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's important 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 difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask 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 Yuma AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver 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 available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Yuma AZ CDL Training
Choosing the right trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need 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 select an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Yuma AZ.