How to Select the Right CDL Training Classes near Saddlebrooke Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Saddlebrooke AZ. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Saddlebrooke home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you'll get the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge 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 decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Saddlebrooke AZ and throughout the United States, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic 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). Following are brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 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 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. 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Saddlebrooke AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Saddlebrooke AZ area are accredited because of the stringent 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 required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Saddlebrooke AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Saddlebrooke AZ schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish plenty of 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates 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. Check with the Saddlebrooke AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Saddlebrooke AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive 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 truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's important that the Saddlebrooke AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Saddlebrooke AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Saddlebrooke AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Right Saddlebrooke CDL Training
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might 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 trucking 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 decision. 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 Saddlebrooke Arizona.