How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driver Classes near Chinle Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Chinle AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Chinle residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to make sure you'll obtain the proper training. Just remember, 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 target in mind, just how do you decide on 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 CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Chinle AZ and throughout the United States, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 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 might also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Chinle AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Chinle AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost 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. For example, PTDI mandates 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver 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. However, even the best of Chinle AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is particularly 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 comparatively 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 provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify 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 teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will provide plenty of 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Chinle AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Chinle AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted 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 battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Chinle AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote 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 accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Chinle AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Chinle 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Best Chinle CDL Training
Picking the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to look into 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 enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, 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 joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Chinle Arizona.