How to Find the Right Trucking School near Central Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Central AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Central home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you’ll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Central AZ, an operator must 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 driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 CDL is required to operate 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Central AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Central AZ area are accredited due to 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 certain 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 mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks 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 typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Central AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention 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 claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Central AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good 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 real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Central AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver 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 instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Central AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking 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 benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Central AZ school you enroll in provides 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 instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Central AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Central AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Central AZ?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Central Arizona area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Central is at 32°52′13″N 109°47′35″W / 32.87028°N 109.79306°W / 32.87028; -109.79306, at an elevation of approximately 2900 feet above sea level. From this location just south of the Gila River within the Upper Gila Valley, Mount Graham of the Pinaleño (Pinaleno Mountains) range dominates the southern skyline.
Central was first homesteaded by the Cluff family in 1880. The Cluffs extended the Central Canal to their lands on the eastern side of Central. Later settlers extended the canal west and north. In 1883 construction began on a one-room white rock building to be used as a church meeting house and school house. By 1884 twenty families, including Cluff, Norton, Shurtz, Bigler, and Webster households resided in Central. In 1978 the streets were named after these early Mormon pioneers. In December 1883 the Central Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was organized and Joseph Cluff was ordained the first bishop. A new red brick church was built in 1885. It was the first regular meeting house built in this part of Arizona and was also the first home of the LDS Academy from December 1890 to May 1891. A plaque east of Hwy 70 on Central Road commemorates the original home of the St. Joseph Stake Academy that later moved to Thatcher and became Eastern Arizona College.
In 1894, LDS Church historian Andrew Jensen reported on the Central Ward: "Thirty-five families or 178 souls, constitute the Mormon population, and there are only two other families in the district. Central excels in point of large orchards, extensive alfalfa fields and good grain. The meeting house is the only public building in the settlement, in which there is also a small store and a post office. There are a number of fine and comfortable private residences, built mostly of brick and adobe."
Class B License Training Central AZ
Picking the ideal trucking school is an important first step to launching 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 several options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Class B License Training. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Central AZ.
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