How to Enroll in the Right Truck Driving Classes near Doney Park Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Doney Park AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Doney Park home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best means to guarantee you'll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Doney Park AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type 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 descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 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. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Doney Park AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Doney Park AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Doney Park AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized 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 claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Doney Park AZ schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will provide plenty of 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Doney Park AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Doney Park AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Doney Park AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Doney Park AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Doney Park AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Right Doney Park CDL Training
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Doney Park Arizona.