How to Choose the Right Trucking School near Apache Junction Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Apache Junction AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Apache Junction residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you'll get the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address 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 CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Apache Junction AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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. 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 require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Apache Junction AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Apache Junction AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked 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 Apache Junction 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 track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, 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. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Apache Junction AZ schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques 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 a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide lots 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Apache Junction AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having 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 work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Apache Junction AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Apache Junction AZ school you enroll in offers 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 teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing 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 firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Apache Junction AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Apache Junction 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 examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best Apache Junction CDL Training
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Apache Junction Arizona.