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How to Select the Right Trucker Classes near Saddlebrooke Arizona

Saddlebrooke Arizona truck hauling cargoCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Saddlebrooke AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Saddlebrooke home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best method to make certain you'll get the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick 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 talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?

Saddlebrooke Arizona tractor trailer driving down highway

In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Saddlebrooke AZ and throughout the USA, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions of the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 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 might also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.

How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School

Saddlebrooke Arizona concrete truck with patriotic paint job

Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Saddlebrooke AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Saddlebrooke AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive 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 program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Saddlebrooke AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker 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 trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Saddlebrooke AZ schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish ample 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Saddlebrooke AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Saddlebrooke AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd 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 looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Saddlebrooke AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Saddlebrooke AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Saddlebrooke AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.

Learn More About Saddlebrooke Truck Driving Training Schools

Choose the Best Saddlebrooke Truck Driver Training

Selecting the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Saddlebrooke Arizona.

 

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