How to Enroll in the Best Trucker Classes near Chandler Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Chandler AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Chandler residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to ensure you'll receive the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within Chandler AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to get 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 subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight 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 descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Chandler AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Chandler AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will satisfy 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 negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Chandler AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the individual instruction 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Chandler AZ schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers 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 quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Chandler AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Chandler AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Chandler AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads 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 Chandler AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Chandler 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 reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best Chandler Truck Driver Training
Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving 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 affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Chandler Arizona.