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How to Choose the Right Truck Driver Classes near Sahuarita Arizona

Sahuarita Arizona truck carrying cargoCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Sahuarita AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Sahuarita residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to make sure you'll receive the appropriate education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?

Sahuarita Arizona truck traveling down road

To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Sahuarita AZ and throughout the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss 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). Below are short explanations of the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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 CDL is required to operate 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. Several 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including 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 qualified to drive.

How to Research a Truck Driving School

Sahuarita Arizona concrete truck with flag paint job

When you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Sahuarita AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Sahuarita AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards 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 operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Sahuarita AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.

How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater 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 concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Sahuarita AZ schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Sahuarita AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.

Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Sahuarita AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Sahuarita AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 obligations.

Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Sahuarita AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Sahuarita AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.

Find Out More About Sahuarita Trucking Schools

Choose the Best Sahuarita Truck Driver Training

Selecting the right truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower 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 regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Sahuarita Arizona.

 

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