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How to Select the Right Trucking School near Nogales Arizona

Nogales Arizona truck carrying payloadCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Nogales AZ. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Nogales residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll obtain the right training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations 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 cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which CDL Will You Need?

Nogales Arizona tractor trailer traveling down expressway

In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Nogales AZ and throughout the USA, an operator 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. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type 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 descriptions for the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 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 needed 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.

How to Evaluate a CDL School

Nogales Arizona concrete mixer truck with patriotic paint job

After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Nogales AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Nogales AZ area are accredited due to the demanding 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 required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked 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 Nogales AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. 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 researching are in good standing.

How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss 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 obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Nogales AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with 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 qualification to train them.

Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Nogales AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Nogales AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive 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 truck driving schools for its graduates. 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 of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Nogales AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit 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? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads 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 Nogales AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Nogales AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.

Learn More About Nogales Trucking Classes

Enroll in the Right Nogales CDL Training

Selecting the right truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving 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 many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Nogales Arizona.

 

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