How to Pick the Right CDL Driving Classes near Avondale Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Avondale AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate 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 examine prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Avondale home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the best method to make sure you'll receive the right education. 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 purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest 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 Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Avondale AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on 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). Following are short summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate 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 operators may be able to drive 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 more 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 might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Avondale AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some more things that you should research while carrying out 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 Avondale AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to 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 rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Avondale AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting 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 relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Avondale AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of 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 important that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates 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 furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from some 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 offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Avondale AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Avondale AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit 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 accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Avondale AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver 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. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Avondale Truck Driver Training
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching 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 several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want 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 enroll in an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Avondale Arizona.