How to Find the Best Trucking Classes near Cave Creek Arizona
Congratulations 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 dream to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you'll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Cave Creek home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to ensure you'll receive the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Cave Creek AZ and throughout the United States, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Cave Creek AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving 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 common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know 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 actual 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure 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 be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Cave Creek AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. 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 two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. 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.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual 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 alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Cave Creek AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask 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 some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Cave Creek AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor 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 must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Cave Creek AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Cave Creek AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Cave Creek CDL Training
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money 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 enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Cave Creek Arizona.