How to Pick a Truck Driving School Mesa Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Mesa AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Mesa home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address 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 Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Mesa AZ, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed 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 CDL is required to drive 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. 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 require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Mesa AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Mesa AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical 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 know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Mesa AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. 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 share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual 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 be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Mesa AZ schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide lots of 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs among 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 Mesa AZ schools you are looking at and find out 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 specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with numerous 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Mesa AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Mesa AZ school you select offers 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 willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. 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 Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received 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 looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Mesa AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Mesa AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Attending Truck Driving School near Mesa AZ?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Mesa Arizona area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Mesa (/ˈmeɪsə/ MAY-sə) is a city in Maricopa County, in the U.S. state of Arizona. It is a suburb located about 20 miles (32 km) east of Phoenix. Mesa is the central city of the East Valley section of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. It is bordered by Tempe on the west, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community on the north, Chandler and Gilbert on the south along with Queen Creek, and Apache Junction on the east.
Mesa is the third-largest city in Arizona, after Phoenix and Tucson, and the 36th-largest city in the US. The city is home to 439,041 people as of 2010 according to the Census Bureau. Mesa is home to numerous higher education facilities including the Polytechnic campus of Arizona State University.
The history of Mesa dates back at least 2,000 years to the arrival of the Hohokam people. The Hohokam, whose name means "All Used Up" or "The Departed Ones", built the original canal system. The canals were the largest and most sophisticated in the prehistoric New World. Some were up to 90 feet (27 m) wide and 10 feet (3.0 m) deep at their head gates, extending for as far as 16 miles (26 km) across the desert. By A.D. 1100 water could be delivered to an area over 110,000 acres (450 km2), transforming the Sonoran Desert into an agricultural oasis. By A.D. 1450, the Hohokam had constructed hundreds of miles of canals many of which are still in use today.
Select the Right Trucking School Mesa AZ
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Mesa AZ.
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