How to Pick the Best Trucker Classes near Catalina Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Catalina AZ. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Catalina home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal method to make certain you'll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within Catalina AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind 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 of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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. 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Catalina AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Catalina AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Catalina AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. 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 obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is especially 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 professionally requires time. Most Catalina AZ schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard 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 AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Catalina AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Catalina AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Catalina AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Catalina AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Catalina Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Catalina Arizona.