How to Find the Best Truck Driver School near Avondale Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Avondale AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Avondale home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the optimal means to make certain you'll receive the proper education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on 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 eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Avondale AZ and throughout the United States, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on 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). Below are brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Avondale AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Avondale AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required 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. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks 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 business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Avondale AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Avondale AZ schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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 substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Avondale AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from certain trucking 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 provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Avondale AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Avondale AZ school you enroll in 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 instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Avondale AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Avondale 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 assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Right Avondale Truck Driver Training
Picking the right truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Avondale Arizona.