How to Choose the Right Truck Driver Classes near Chandler Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Chandler AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to consider before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Chandler residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal means to make certain you'll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional 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 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 Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Chandler AZ and throughout the USA, an operator must attain 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 pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 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. 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Chandler AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Chandler AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost 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 certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? 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. Having said that, even the best of Chandler AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. 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 individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding 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 comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Chandler AZ schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, 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. 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 instructors in person. You can also speak with some 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.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient 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 important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Chandler AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with a wide range of 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 giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Chandler AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Chandler AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Chandler AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Chandler AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask 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.
Choose the Right Chandler Truck Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Chandler Arizona.