How to Enroll in the Right Truck Driver Classes near Buckeye Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Buckeye AZ. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to think about before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Buckeye residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you'll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance 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?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Buckeye AZ and throughout the USA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver 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 discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed 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. 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 may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Buckeye AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are several additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Buckeye AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace 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 caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Buckeye AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact 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 hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual 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 claims it can teach 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. The majority of Buckeye AZ schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide ample 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary 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. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Buckeye AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Buckeye AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent 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 graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Buckeye AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job 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 acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Buckeye AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Buckeye AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Right Buckeye Truck Driver Training
Selecting the right truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new profession 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 crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to think about 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 firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Buckeye Arizona.