How to Decide on the Right Truck Driver School near Avondale Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Avondale AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Avondale residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to ensure you'll get the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective 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 target in mind, just how do you decide on 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 commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Avondale AZ and throughout the United States, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can qualify 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 address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 required 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. 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, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Avondale AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several additional factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Avondale AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common 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. Interested 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 requires 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Avondale AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. 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 personalized instruction 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 train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Avondale AZ schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with some 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 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 operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for real 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 between schools, a good standard 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 Avondale AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from certain 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 maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Avondale AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of 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 earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, 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 a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Avondale AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Avondale AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Best Avondale CDL Training
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to think about 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 select an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Avondale Arizona.