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How to Pick the Best Trucker Classes near San Luis Arizona

San Luis Arizona tractor trailer hauling cargoCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near San Luis AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll want to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your San Luis residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to make sure you'll get the appropriate education. Don't forget, 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 target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That 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 commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.

Which CDL Should You Get?

San Luis Arizona tractor trailer traveling down road

To operate commercial vehicles legally within San Luis AZ and throughout the USA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations of the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed 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. Several 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 may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.

How to Evaluate a CDL School

San Luis Arizona concrete mixer truck with patriotic paint job

After you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the San Luis AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the San Luis AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated 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 San Luis AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, 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 confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.

How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of San Luis AZ schools offer training programs that range from three 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 essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the San Luis AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the San Luis AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the San Luis AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. 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 Placement Offered? Once you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few San Luis AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other San Luis 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 aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.

Learn More About San Luis Truck Driver Schools

Choose the Right San Luis Truck Driver Training

Choosing the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to beginning 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 several options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in San Luis Arizona.

 

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