How to Select the Best Truck Driver School near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Catalina Foothills AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Catalina Foothills home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal means to make sure you'll obtain the appropriate training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Catalina Foothills AZ and throughout the United States, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three 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 select a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Catalina Foothills AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are some additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Catalina Foothills AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost 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. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Catalina Foothills AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask 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, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. 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 contact the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Catalina Foothills AZ schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide plenty of 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations 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 giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's essential 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 a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Catalina Foothills AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? 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 aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Best Catalina Foothills Truck Driver Training
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL 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 no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Catalina Foothills Arizona.