How to Find a Truck Driver School near Tucson Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Tucson AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s important to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Tucson home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills 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? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally in Arizona and within the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school near Tucson AZ, 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 descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 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 needed 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. 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Tucson AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Tucson AZ truck driver schools are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common 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 know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed 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 Tucson 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 history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to make sure 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 hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk 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 greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention 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 train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Tucson AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the Tucson AZ school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish 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 necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Tucson AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some Tucson AZ truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the Tucson AZ schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from 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 short term, it’s imperative that the Tucson AZ school you enroll in 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 teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession in Tucson AZ. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing 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 employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted in Tucson AZ.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Tractor Trailer Operator?When prepping to interview for a Trucking position, it's helpful to review questions you could be asked. Among the things that interviewers typically ask truck driving applicants is "What drove you to choose trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not just the personal reasons you may have for becoming a trucker, but additionally what qualities and skills you possess that make you exceptional at your profession. You will undoubtedly be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, along with a certain number of general interview questions, so you need to prepare a number of approaches about how you would like to respond to them. Given that there are several variables that go into selecting a career, you can answer this fundamental question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you as well as the talents you have that make you an excellent truck driver and the leading candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but write down a few concepts and talking points that relate to your own strengths and experiences. Reading through sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
Pick the Right Truck Driving School Tucson AZ
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local 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 offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even 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 firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Tucson AZ.
A Bit About Tucson Arizona
Tucson (/ˈtuːsɒn/ /tuːˈsɒn/) is a city and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States, and home to the University of Arizona. The 2010 United States Census put the population at 520,116, while the 2015 estimated population of the entire Tucson metropolitan statistical area (MSA) was 980,263. The Tucson MSA forms part of the larger Tucson-Nogales combined statistical area (CSA), with a total population of 1,010,025 as of the 2010 Census. Tucson is the second-largest populated city in Arizona behind Phoenix, both of which anchor the Arizona Sun Corridor. The city is  located 108 miles (174 km) southeast of Phoenix and 60 mi (97 km) north of the U.S.–Mexico border. Tucson is the 33rd largest city and the 53rd largest metropolitan area in the United States.
Major incorporated suburbs of Tucson include Oro Valley and Marana northwest of the city, Sahuarita south of the city, and South Tucson in an enclave south of downtown. Communities in the vicinity of Tucson (some within or overlapping the city limits) include Casas Adobes, Catalina Foothills, Flowing Wells, Midvale Park, Tanque Verde, Tortolita, and Vail. Towns outside the Tucson metro area include Benson to the southeast, Catalina and Oracle to the north, and Green Valley to the south.
The Spanish name of the city, Tucsón [tukˈson], is derived from the O'odham Cuk Ṣon [tʃʊk ʂɔːn], meaning "(at the) base of the black [hill]", a reference to a basalt-covered hill now known as Sentinel Peak, also known as "A" Mountain. Tucson is sometimes referred to as "The Old Pueblo".
Tucson was probably first visited by Paleo-Indians, known to have been in southern Arizona about 12,000 years ago. Recent archaeological excavations near the Santa Cruz River have located a village site dating from 2100 BC. The floodplain of the Santa Cruz River was extensively farmed during the Early Agricultural Period, circa 1200 BC to AD 150. These people constructed irrigation canals and grew corn, beans, and other crops while gathering wild plants and hunting. The Early Ceramic period occupation of Tucson saw the first extensive use of pottery vessels for cooking and storage. The groups designated as the Hohokam lived in the area from AD 600 to 1450 and are known for their vast irrigation canal systems and their red-on-brown pottery.
More Cities of Interest in Arizona