How to Pick the Right CDL Driving School near Camp Verde Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Camp Verde AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you'll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Camp Verde home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best means to ensure you'll get the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover 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 CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Camp Verde AZ and throughout the United States, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply 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 focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 required to operate 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 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Camp Verde AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Camp Verde AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical 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 quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Camp Verde AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Camp Verde AZ schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional 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 subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Camp Verde AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Camp Verde AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Camp Verde 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 particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing 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 needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Camp Verde AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Camp Verde AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Right Camp Verde Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big 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 in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Camp Verde Arizona.