How to Pick the Right CDL Driving Classes near Nogales Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Nogales AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Nogales home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to make certain you'll get the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within Nogales AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are brief descriptions for the 2 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 more 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 needed to drive 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. Several 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 may also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Nogales AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are some more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Nogales AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous 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 certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Nogales AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Nogales AZ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Nogales AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different 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 have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Nogales AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Nogales AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious 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 graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Nogales AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Nogales 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 assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best Nogales Truck Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the proper 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 think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Nogales Arizona.