How to Select the Right CDL Training School near Chinle Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Chinle AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Chinle residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to make certain you'll get the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge 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 cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Chinle AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class 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 brief explanations of 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 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as 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 authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
When you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Chinle AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Chinle AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Chinle AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims 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 professionally takes time. The majority of Chinle AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish plenty 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute 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 can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Chinle AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations 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 have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Chinle AZ schools you are considering 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 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 benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Chinle AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Chinle AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Chinle AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Chinle CDL Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm 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 soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Chinle Arizona.