How to Select the Best Truck Driver Classes near Anthem Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Anthem AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Anthem residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll receive the right education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Anthem AZ and throughout the United States, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 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. Some 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 might also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
When you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Anthem AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Anthem AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed 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 top Anthem AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Anthem AZ schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of 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 keep 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 possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training 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 furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Anthem AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide 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 benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive 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.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering 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 locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative 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 particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Anthem AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Anthem AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Anthem CDL Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge 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 obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Anthem Arizona.