How to Decide on the Right Trucking Classes near Cave Creek Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Cave Creek AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Cave Creek home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to make sure you'll get the proper education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder 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?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Cave Creek AZ and throughout the USA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 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 select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 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 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 CDL is required 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 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Cave Creek AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary 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 equally if not more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Cave Creek AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving 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. Having said that, even the top Cave Creek AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look 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 industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning 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 relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Cave Creek AZ schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with 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 obtain free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations 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 giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Cave Creek AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Cave Creek AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Cave Creek AZ employers recruiting their grads, 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 available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Cave Creek CDL Training
Choosing the right truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Cave Creek Arizona.