How to Select a Truck Driver School near Maricopa Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Maricopa AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Maricopa home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to ensure you’ll receive the proper training. 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 goal in mind, just how do you choose 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully in Arizona and within the USA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school near Maricopa AZ, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are short explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Maricopa AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Maricopa AZ truck driver schools are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required 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. 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Maricopa AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Maricopa AZ schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several 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 instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the Maricopa AZ school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide plenty 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 operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Maricopa AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from some Maricopa AZ truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the Maricopa AZ schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Maricopa AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. 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 needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new career in Maricopa AZ. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed in Maricopa AZ.
Why Did You Want to Become a Trucker?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to consider questions you may be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers often ask truck driving applicants is "What drove you to decide on trucking as a career?". What the interviewer is hoping to discover is not merely the personal reasons you might have for becoming a trucker, but also what qualities and talents you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining primarily to trucking, as well as a significant number of general interview questions, so you must prepare a number of ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Because there are several variables that go into choosing a career, you can address this fundamental question in a number of ways. When preparing an answer, aim to include the reasons the work appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an excellent truck driver and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't attempt to memorize an answer, but take down several ideas and anecdotes that pertain to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and give you ideas of what to include to enthuse the recruiter.
Pick the Best CDL School Maricopa AZ
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many 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 big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to think about 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 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 in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Maricopa AZ.
A Bit About Maricopa Arizona
Maricopa is a city in the Gila River Valley in the State of Arizona. With an estimated 48,602 residents as of 2015[update], Maricopa is the second most populous incorporated city in Pinal County and eighteenth most populous in Arizona. Maricopa forms part of the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Maricopa has had three locations over the years: Maricopa Wells, Maricopaville and Maricopa Junction; the latter gradually became known as Maricopa. It started as an oasis around a series of watering holes eight miles north of present-day Maricopa, and about a mile west of Pima Butte. European-American traders and travelers called it Maricopa Wells. Several of Arizona’s rivers, the Gila, Santa Cruz, Vekol and Santa Rosa provided this oasis in the desert with an ample supply of water during this period of time.
During the late 1800s, Maricopa Wells was one of the most important relay stations along the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line and the later more famous Butterfield Overland Mail Route. Although little remains of this once bustling community, it played an important part in the progress and development of the Southwest. It was one of the best-known spots in Arizona during this period of time because it had a reliable source of water, and offered an abundant supply of food. The peaceful Pima and Maricopa farmers who lived and farmed nearby sold supplies to travelers and migrants.
The most prosperous period of time for Maricopa Wells was in the 1870s. During this time the trading center at the Wells provided water and food for not only the east-west travelers, but those who traveled to the north to Phoenix. Fairly good roads had been built by James A. Moore, the proprietor at Maricopa Wells, to all points north, and the Wells was a constant hubbub of activity.
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