How to Choose the Right CDL Driving Classes near Apache Junction Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Apache Junction AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll want to examine before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Apache Junction home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal means to make certain you'll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable 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 address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within Apache Junction AZ and throughout the United States, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed 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 needed 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. Several of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate 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 operate certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Apache Junction AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially 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 rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace 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. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Apache Junction AZ schools had to begin 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 relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers 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 greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Apache Junction AZ schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing 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, an excellent truck driving school will furnish 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Apache Junction AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Apache Junction AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer 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 indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's imperative 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 instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Apache Junction AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver 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 assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Best Apache Junction Truck Driver Training
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape 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 large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Apache Junction Arizona.