How to Select a Trucking School Cottonwood Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Cottonwood AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Cottonwood home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you’ll obtain the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Cottonwood AZ, an operator must obtain 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 select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 more 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 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 proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Cottonwood AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Cottonwood AZ area are accredited due to 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to 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 business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Cottonwood AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Cottonwood AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will furnish 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Cottonwood AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with many different 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 freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Cottonwood AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Cottonwood AZ school you select provides 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 instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering 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 referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Cottonwood AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Cottonwood 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Attending Truck Driving School near Cottonwood AZ?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Cottonwood Arizona area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Cottonwood has a semi-arid steppe climate. In January the normal high temperature is 55 °F (13 °C) with a low of 26 °F (−3 °C). In July the normal high temperature is 97 °F (36 °C) with a low of 68 °F (20 °C). Annual precipitation is around 13 inches (33 cm).
As of the census of 2000, there were 9,179 people, 3,983 households and 2,369 families residing in the city. The population density was 860.3 people per square mile (332.1/km²). There were 4,427 housing units at an average density of 414.9 per square mile (160.2/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 85.24% White, 0.49% Black or African American, 1.57% Native American, 0.41% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 9.66% from other races, and 2.59% from two or more races. 20.53% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 3,983 households out of which 25.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.5% were Married Couples living together, 10.8% had a female as Head of Household with no Husband present, and 40.5% were non-families. 34.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 2.90.
Pick the Right CDL School Cottonwood AZ
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge 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. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. 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 in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Cottonwood AZ.
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