How to Enroll in the Right CDL Driving Classes near Lake Montezuma Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Lake Montezuma AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Lake Montezuma home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to guarantee you'll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select 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 CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Lake Montezuma AZ and throughout the United States, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class 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 brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. Some of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate 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 drive 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Lake Montezuma AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Lake Montezuma AZ area are accredited due to the stringent 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked 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 best of Lake Montezuma AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, 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 attention 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 teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Lake Montezuma AZ schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Lake Montezuma AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Lake Montezuma AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Lake Montezuma AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty 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 working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Lake Montezuma AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Lake Montezuma 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 must be completed.
Enroll in the Best Lake Montezuma CDL Training
Choosing the right trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation 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 critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving 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 choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Lake Montezuma Arizona.