How to Enroll in the Right Truck Driving School near Bisbee Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Bisbee AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you'll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Bisbee residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you'll obtain the appropriate training. Don't forget, your goal 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 target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Bisbee AZ and throughout the USA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type 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 descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate 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 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 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. A few 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Bisbee AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Bisbee AZ area are accredited because of the demanding 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 obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Bisbee 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 track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with 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 should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Bisbee AZ schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking 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 operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates 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. Contact the Bisbee AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous 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 be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Bisbee AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Bisbee AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Bisbee AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Bisbee AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Right Bisbee Truck Driver Training
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Bisbee Arizona.