How to Select the Best CDL Driving School near Rio Rico Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Rio Rico AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to receive 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 want to consider before making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Rio Rico home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll obtain the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within Rio Rico AZ and throughout the United States, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight 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 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 more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 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. 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Rio Rico AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Rio Rico AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common 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 be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Rio Rico AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Rio Rico AZ schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. After all, 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 essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Rio Rico AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from some 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 having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Rio Rico AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. 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 of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Rio Rico AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? 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 looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage 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 lower job placement rate or not many Rio Rico AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Rio Rico AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing 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.
Choose the Right Rio Rico Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape 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 get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to look into 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 select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Rio Rico Arizona.