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How to Pick the Best Truck Driving Classes near Cave Creek Arizona

Cave Creek Arizona tractor trailer carrying payloadCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Cave Creek AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Cave Creek residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you'll receive the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?

Cave Creek Arizona tractor trailer traveling down road

To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Cave Creek AZ and throughout the United States, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are short descriptions for the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 greater 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 need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.

How to Research a CDL School

Cave Creek Arizona cement mixer truck with flag paint job

When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Cave Creek AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Cave Creek AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Cave Creek AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm 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 instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Cave Creek AZ schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking 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 operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Cave Creek AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular 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 associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to 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 opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Cave Creek AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Cave Creek AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote 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 commitments.

Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Cave Creek AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Cave Creek AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.

Learn More About Cave Creek Trucker Classes

Enroll in the Best Cave Creek Truck Driver Training

Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to beginning 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 many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need 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 truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Cave Creek Arizona.

 

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