How to Enroll in the Right Truck Driver School near Rincon Valley Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Rincon Valley AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Rincon Valley residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to ensure you'll receive the right education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal 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 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 Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within Rincon Valley AZ and throughout the USA, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 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 operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Rincon Valley AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some more points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Rincon Valley AZ area are accredited because of the stringent 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Rincon Valley AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing department to verify 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 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 not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Rincon Valley AZ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will furnish ample 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets 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 no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Rincon Valley AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known 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 refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff 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 opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Rincon Valley AZ schools you are contemplating 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 driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Rincon Valley 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 teacher should be willing to spend 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Rincon Valley AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Rincon Valley AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Rincon Valley Truck Driver Training
Selecting the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of 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 operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving 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 no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Rincon Valley Arizona.