How to Select the Best Truck Driver School near Casa Grande Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Casa Grande AZ. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to examine before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Casa Grande residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll receive the proper training. Don't forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within Casa Grande AZ and throughout the United States, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries for the two 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 greater 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 required 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. Some of the vehicles that drivers may be qualified to operate 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 operate specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Casa Grande AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Casa Grande AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost 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 required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Casa Grande AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention 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 claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Casa Grande AZ schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Casa Grande AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Casa Grande AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Casa Grande AZ school you select 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 prepared to dedicate 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 fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Casa Grande AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Casa Grande AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask 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.
Choose the Right Casa Grande Truck Driver Training
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold 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. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Casa Grande Arizona.