How to Choose a Trucking School near Central Arizona
Best wishes on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Central AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Central residence. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal method to ensure you’ll get the right education. 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 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 talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally in Arizona and within the USA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school near Central AZ, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Central AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many Central AZ trucking schools are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided 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 quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Central AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. 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 personal 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Central AZ schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the Central AZ school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. After all, 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 tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Central AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some Central AZ trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the Central AZ 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 facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Central AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. 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 Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession in Central AZ. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask 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 completed in Central AZ.
Why Did You Decide to Become a Truck Driver?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's a good idea to reflect on questions you might be asked. Among the things that interviewers often ask truck driving candidates is "What compelled you to choose trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to learn is not just the private reasons you may have for being a truck driver, but also what characteristics and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you should ready some ideas about how you want to address them. Because there are several factors that go into selecting a career, you can answer this primary question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the best choice for the job. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down a few concepts and topics that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Going over sample responses can help you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
Pick the Ideal CDL School Central AZ
Picking the right trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to think about 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 school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Central AZ.
A Bit About Central Arizona
Sūrat az-Zumar (Arabic: سورة الزمر, "The Troops, The Throngs") is the 39th sura, or chapter, of the Qur'an, the central religious text of Islam. It contains 75 ayat, or verses.
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