How to Pick the Best Trucker Classes near Catalina Foothills Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Catalina Foothills AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you'll need to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Catalina Foothills home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Catalina Foothills AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 CDL 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 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 require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Catalina Foothills AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Catalina Foothills AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
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 instructors in the following 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 instruction 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 period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Catalina Foothills AZ schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out 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 satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she 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 a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Catalina Foothills AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. 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 accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Catalina Foothills AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Catalina Foothills AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Catalina Foothills AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Right Catalina Foothills Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Catalina Foothills Arizona.