How to Find the Best Trucking School near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Catalina Foothills AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Catalina Foothills residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best means to make sure you'll receive the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on 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 eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Catalina Foothills 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 select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class 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). Below are short explanations 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 CDL 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 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Catalina Foothills AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 fulfill the very high standards 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 rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Catalina Foothills AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors 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 look out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Catalina Foothills AZ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to 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 provide sufficient 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with numerous 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 flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. 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 receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Catalina Foothills AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Catalina Foothills AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Catalina Foothills 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 reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Catalina Foothills Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving 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 regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Catalina Foothills Arizona.