How to Decide on the Best Trucking School near Avra Valley Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Avra Valley AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Avra Valley home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best means to make certain you'll obtain the proper training. Don't forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Avra Valley AZ and throughout the United States, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions of the 2 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 needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Avra Valley AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Avra Valley AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know 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 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Avra Valley AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers 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 getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Avra Valley AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's imperative 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 qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish lots 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good 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 Avra Valley AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Avra Valley AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Avra Valley AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Avra Valley AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Avra Valley AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Right Avra Valley Truck Driver Training
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might 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 choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Avra Valley Arizona.