How to Find the Best CDL Driving Classes near Apache Junction Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking 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 conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Apache Junction home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you'll obtain the proper education. Don't forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within Apache Junction AZ and throughout the USA, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind 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 explanations for the two 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 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 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 may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Apache Junction AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Apache Junction AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered 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 get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Apache Junction AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, 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 drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Apache Junction AZ schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of 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 current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual 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 alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Apache Junction AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, 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. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Apache Junction AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. 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 battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Apache Junction AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Apache Junction AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Apache Junction AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Best Apache Junction CDL Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to consider 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 enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Apache Junction Arizona.