How to Select a Trucking School Fountain Hills Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Fountain Hills AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Fountain Hills home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best method to guarantee you’ll obtain the right education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal 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 remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Fountain Hills AZ, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify 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 discuss 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). Below are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. Some 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 required to drive 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. Some 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 might also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Fountain Hills AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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 know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Fountain Hills AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. 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 supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good 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 instructors in the next segment. 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 individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Fountain Hills AZ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide ample 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed 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 battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Fountain Hills AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit 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 commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Fountain Hills AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Fountain Hills AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Attending Truck Driving School near Fountain Hills AZ?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Fountain Hills Arizona area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Fountain Hills, Arizona
Fountain Hills is a town in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States. Known for its impressive fountain, once the tallest in the world, it borders on the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and Scottsdale, Arizona. The population is 22,489, as of the 2010 census. Between the 1990 and 2000 censuses it was the eighth-fastest-growing place among cities and towns in Arizona.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 18.2 square miles (47.1 km2), of which 18.1 square miles (46.9 km2) is land and 0.1 square mile (0.26 km2) (0.55%) is water.
To the east of the town is the Verde River, a tributary to the Salt River. Inside the town there are many washes that run through Fountain Hills into the Verde River. Some of these washes include the Ashbrook, Balboa, Legend, and Colony Washes. During times of rain the washes flood with water and can sometimes block roads with their water.
Select the Best Truck Driving School Fountain Hills AZ
Picking the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation 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 crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to think about 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 select an independent school and have the the freedom to drive 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 soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Fountain Hills AZ.
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