How to Decide on the Right Truck Driver School near Anthem Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Anthem AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Anthem home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best means to make certain you'll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations 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 rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Anthem AZ and throughout the USA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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 operators may be able to drive 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 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. 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Anthem AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Anthem AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical 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 standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed 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 Anthem AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal 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 insists it can teach you to drive trucks 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 Anthem AZ schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish plenty 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 operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Anthem AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver 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 associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Anthem AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Anthem AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Anthem AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Anthem AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Anthem CDL Training
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation 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 several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must get the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to consider 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 select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Anthem Arizona.