How to Enroll in the Right Trucking Classes near Fountain Hills Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Fountain Hills AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you'll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Fountain Hills home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to ensure you'll receive the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose 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 eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within Fountain Hills AZ and throughout the United States, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses 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 driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 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. Some 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Fountain Hills AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially 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 rigorous process and expense 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 certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 clue to help measure the quality of a trucking 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. Having said that, even the top Fountain Hills AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Fountain Hills AZ schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify 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 regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good 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 real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary 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 become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask 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 other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Fountain Hills AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Fountain Hills AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Fountain Hills AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Right Fountain Hills CDL Training
Picking the right trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Fountain Hills Arizona.