How to Decide on the Best Truck Driving School near Catalina Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Catalina AZ. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Catalina residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll obtain the right education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Catalina AZ and throughout the United States, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person 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 discuss Class A and 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 explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. 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 needed 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 drivers may be qualified to operate 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 need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Catalina AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. 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 variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Catalina AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense 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 several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Catalina AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement 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 points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual 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 train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Catalina 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 previously mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish lots 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs between 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. Contact the Catalina AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire 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 several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of 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 Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Catalina AZ school you choose provides 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 prepared to spend 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Catalina AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Catalina AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Best Catalina Truck Driver Training
Selecting the right truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial 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 cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL 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 choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Catalina Arizona.