How to Find the Best CDL Driving Classes near Buckeye Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Buckeye AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Buckeye home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to ensure you'll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk 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 United States, a driver must 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. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 more 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Buckeye AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Buckeye AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous 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 obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize 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 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Buckeye AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting 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 claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Buckeye AZ schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will furnish 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Buckeye AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Buckeye AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Buckeye AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Buckeye AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Buckeye AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best Buckeye Truck Driver Training
Choosing the right trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may 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 choose an independent trucker 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 decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Buckeye Arizona.