How to Pick the Right Trucking School near Fountain Hills Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Fountain Hills AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Fountain Hills residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best method to ensure you'll get the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Fountain Hills AZ and throughout the USA, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 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 might also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Fountain Hills AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent 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. For example, PTDI mandates 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Fountain Hills AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly 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 be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Fountain Hills AZ schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving 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. Although 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 gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver 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 convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Fountain Hills AZ school you enroll in 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 devote 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 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 keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Fountain Hills AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Fountain Hills AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Right Fountain Hills CDL Training
Picking the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Fountain Hills Arizona.