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How to Find the Right CDL Training Classes near Fountain Hills Arizona

Fountain Hills Arizona tractor trailer carrying cargoCongratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Fountain Hills AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Fountain Hills residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to ensure you'll receive the right 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 objective 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 Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?

Fountain Hills Arizona tractor trailer driving down expressway

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 three license classes that one 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 focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions for the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.

How to Assess a Truck Driving School

Fountain Hills Arizona concrete mixer truck with flag paint job

Once you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Fountain Hills AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. 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 top Fountain Hills AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with 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 should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Fountain Hills AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several 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 important that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish plenty 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 essential training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs 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. Get in touch with the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Fountain Hills AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating 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 firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Fountain Hills AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Fountain Hills AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.

Learn More About Fountain Hills Truck Driver Schools

Enroll in the Right Fountain Hills Truck Driver Training

Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to consider 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 CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Fountain Hills Arizona.

 

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