How to Enroll in the Right Trucking Classes near Camp Verde Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Camp Verde AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Camp Verde residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you'll receive the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams 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 discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Camp Verde AZ and throughout the United States, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply 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 focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are short summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 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 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 may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Camp Verde AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Camp Verde AZ area are accredited because of 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Camp Verde AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Camp Verde AZ schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers 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 best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some 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.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs 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. Contact the Camp Verde AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Camp Verde AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Camp Verde AZ school you choose 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 instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Camp Verde AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Camp Verde AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Right Camp Verde CDL Training
Picking the right truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation 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 critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Camp Verde Arizona.