How to Decide on the Right CDL Training Classes near Bullhead City Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Bullhead City AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll want to examine before making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Bullhead City residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you'll obtain the right 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 objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within Bullhead City AZ and throughout the USA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight 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). Below are short explanations of the 2 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. Several 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 needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 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 need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Bullhead City AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are a few more things that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Bullhead City AZ area are accredited due to the demanding 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Bullhead City AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior 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 researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Bullhead City AZ schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide lots of 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, 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 can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Bullhead City AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Bullhead City AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving 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 benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Bullhead City AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Bullhead City AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Bullhead City AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Right Bullhead City CDL Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical 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 fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Bullhead City Arizona.