How to Pick the Right Truck Driver School near Douglas Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Douglas AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you'll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Douglas home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to make sure you'll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal 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 goal in mind, just how do you pick 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 review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Douglas AZ and throughout the USA, an operator must attain 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 choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type 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 explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. 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 CDL is needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Douglas AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, 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 conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Douglas AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, 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 driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Douglas AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Douglas 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 Teachers? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, 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 methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Douglas AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Douglas AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Douglas AZ school you choose offers 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 willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Douglas AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Douglas AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Right Douglas CDL Training
Picking the right truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught 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 if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Douglas Arizona.