How to Select the Right Truck Driving Classes near Catalina Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Catalina AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Catalina home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to make sure you'll obtain the right education. Just remember, your goal 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 purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Catalina AZ and throughout the United States, an operator 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 pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Catalina AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Catalina AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Catalina AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Catalina AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to check out 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 quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Catalina AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted 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 offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Catalina AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Catalina AZ school you choose offers 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 attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start 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 grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Catalina AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Catalina AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Right Catalina Truck Driver Training
Picking the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Catalina Arizona.