How to Enroll in the Right CDL Driving Classes near Fortuna Foothills Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Fortuna Foothills AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to examine before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Fortuna Foothills residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal method to make certain you'll obtain the right education. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Fortuna Foothills AZ and throughout the United States, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight 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 brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Fortuna Foothills AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Fortuna Foothills AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards 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 operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Fortuna Foothills AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss 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 obtaining the personal 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Fortuna Foothills AZ schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods 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 an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide sufficient 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Fortuna Foothills AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Fortuna Foothills 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 permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking 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 accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Fortuna Foothills AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Fortuna Foothills AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Fortuna Foothills AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Fortuna Foothills Truck Driver Training
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to look into 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 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 choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Fortuna Foothills Arizona.