How to Pick the Best Truck Driver School near Chino Valley Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Chino Valley AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative 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 want to examine before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Chino Valley residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal method to make certain you'll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss 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 Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within Chino Valley AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to attain 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 pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and 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). Following are short summaries of the 2 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 CDL is required to drive 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Chino Valley AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Chino Valley AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver 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. Having said that, even the top Chino Valley AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, 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 profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater 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 regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Chino Valley AZ schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide 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 operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Chino Valley AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Chino Valley AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer 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, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Chino Valley AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads 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 not many Chino Valley AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Chino Valley AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Right Chino Valley CDL Training
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is a critical 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 a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced 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 company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Chino Valley Arizona.