How to Find the Right Truck Driver Classes near Anthem Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Anthem AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Anthem residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to make sure you'll receive the proper training. Don't forget, 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 purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within Anthem AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed 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 CDL is needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 drive certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Anthem AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Anthem AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Anthem AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Anthem AZ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish plenty 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Anthem AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Anthem AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Anthem AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Anthem AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? 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 offered. 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 need to be submitted.
Choose the Best Anthem Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might 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 enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated 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 truck driver in Anthem Arizona.