How to Choose the Best Trucking School near Avondale Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Avondale AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever 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 want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Avondale home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll obtain the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target 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 ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Avondale AZ and throughout the United States, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Avondale AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, 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. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically 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 learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next 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 obtaining the personal 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 professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Avondale AZ schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep current 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 best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide ample 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Avondale AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Avondale AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide 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 permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Avondale AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular 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 must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Avondale AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Avondale AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Avondale CDL Training
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn 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 if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Avondale Arizona.