How to Choose the Best CDL Training School near Bisbee Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Bisbee AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Bisbee residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you'll obtain the proper education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge 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? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover 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 CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within Bisbee AZ and throughout the United States, an operator must attain 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 choose a truck driver school, we will focus on 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). Following are short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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 required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 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 kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Bisbee AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Bisbee AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Bisbee AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts 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 researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Bisbee AZ schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Bisbee AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Bisbee AZ schools you are contemplating 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 available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Bisbee AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Bisbee AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Bisbee AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Bisbee CDL Training
Picking the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Bisbee Arizona.