How to Pick the Best Trucker School near Oro Valley Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Oro Valley AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you'll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Oro Valley home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you'll receive the appropriate training. Don't forget, 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 goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within Oro Valley AZ and throughout the United States, a driver must 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 driver school, we will focus on 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). Below are short explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDL is required 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. 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 might also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Oro Valley AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are some additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Oro Valley AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high benchmarks 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 business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Oro Valley AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior 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 compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding 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 period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Oro Valley AZ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. 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.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Oro Valley AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified 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 having relationships with a wide range of 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 giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Oro Valley AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent 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 driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Oro Valley AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending 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 received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Oro Valley AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Oro Valley 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 evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Best Oro Valley Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Oro Valley Arizona.