How to Pick the Right Trucking Classes near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Catalina Foothills AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Catalina Foothills residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to make sure you'll get the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Catalina Foothills AZ and throughout the USA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select 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). Below are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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 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 needed 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. Several 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 operate specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Catalina Foothills AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost 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 a number of 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 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Catalina Foothills AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, 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 segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly 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 be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Catalina Foothills AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide ample 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free 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 provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Catalina Foothills AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Catalina Foothills AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Catalina Foothills AZ area technical or vocational 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 aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Best Catalina Foothills Truck Driver Training
Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Catalina Foothills Arizona.