How to Find a CDL Driving School near Apache Junction Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Apache Junction AZ. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Apache Junction home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll receive the appropriate education. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge 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 discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally in Arizona and within the United States, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school near Apache Junction AZ, we will focus on Class A and Class 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 descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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 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 need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Apache Junction AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few Apache Junction AZ truck driver schools are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Apache Junction AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next 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 receiving 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Apache Junction AZ schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several 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 stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the Apache Junction AZ school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though 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 gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Apache Junction AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of Apache Junction AZ truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the Apache Junction AZ schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Apache Junction AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession in Apache Junction AZ. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed in Apache Junction AZ.
Why Did You Decide to Be a Truck Driver?When preparing to interview for a Trucking position, it's important to review questions you may be asked. One of the questions that interviewers often ask truck driving applicants is "What made you decide on trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to discover is not just the private reasons you may have for being a trucking operator, but additionally what characteristics and talents you have that make you exceptional at your profession. You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to trucking, along with a significant number of routine interview questions, so you should organize several strategies about how you would like to answer them. Considering there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a multitude of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the work interests you along with the talents you possess that make you an outstanding truck driver and the ideal candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but jot down some ideas and topics that pertain to your own strengths and experiences. Reviewing sample responses can assist you to develop your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Pick the Right Truck Driving School Apache Junction AZ
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want 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 choose an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Apache Junction AZ.
A Bit About Apache Junction Arizona
Apache Junction, Arizona
The town is bounded by the Superstition Mountains (a federal wilderness area and home of the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine) on the east, the Goldfield Mountains with the Bulldog Recreation Area on the north and the city of Mesa on the west. Goldfield Ghost Town, a tourist location preserved from former prospecting days, lies near the western face of Superstition Mountain just off Highway 88 (Apache Trail). It is located just southwest of the site of the ghost town of Goldfield, Arizona.
As of the census of 2010, there were 35,840 people, 15,574 households, and 9,372 families residing in the city. The population density was 929.3 people per square mile (358.9/km²). There were 22,771 housing units at an average density of 665.1 per square mile (256.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 89.5% White, 1.2% Black or African American, 1.1% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 4.9% from other races, and 2.4% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14.4% of the population.
There were 15,574 households out of which 19.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 10.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% were non-families. 31.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.85.
The median income (as of the 2000 census) for a household in the city was $33,170, and the median income for a family was $37,726. Males had a median income of $31,283 versus $22,836 for females. The per capita income for the city was $16,806. About 7.3% of families and 11.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.4% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.
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