How to Select the Best Truck Driving School near Coolidge Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Coolidge AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you'll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Coolidge home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal method to make certain you'll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal 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 choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Coolidge AZ and throughout the USA, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving 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 short explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate 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 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 greater 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 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 require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Coolidge AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Coolidge AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Coolidge AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts 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 compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Coolidge AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Coolidge AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Coolidge AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Coolidge AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates 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 Coolidge AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Coolidge AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid 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 need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Coolidge Truck Driver Training
Picking the ideal trucking school is an important first step to beginning 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 offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to consider 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 select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Coolidge Arizona.