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How to Pick the Right Truck Driver School near Anthem Arizona

Anthem Arizona truck carrying cargoCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Anthem AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Anthem home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best method to guarantee you'll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.

Which CDL Should You Get?

Anthem Arizona truck traveling down road

In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Anthem AZ and throughout the USA, an operator must obtain 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. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions for the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.

How to Evaluate a Trucking School

Anthem Arizona concrete truck with patriotic paint job

As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Anthem AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Anthem AZ area are accredited because of the demanding 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 several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically 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 first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.

How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following 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 receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding 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 time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Anthem AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.

How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Anthem AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations 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 giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire 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 a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Anthem AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Anthem AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver 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 assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.

Learn More About Anthem Truck Driver Training Schools

Choose the Right Anthem CDL Training

Picking the right truck driver school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to look into 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 truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Anthem Arizona.

 

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