How to Decide on the Best Trucking School near Drexel Heights Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Drexel Heights AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever 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 several variables that you'll need to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Drexel Heights home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best means to make certain you'll receive the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Drexel Heights AZ and throughout the USA, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries for 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. Some of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive 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 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Drexel Heights AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Drexel Heights 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 pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching 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 teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Drexel Heights AZ schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As already stated, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Drexel Heights AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from some trucking 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 provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Drexel Heights AZ schools you are considering 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 driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Drexel Heights AZ school you choose 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 teacher should be willing 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Drexel Heights AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Drexel Heights AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Drexel Heights CDL Training
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is a critical 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 a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want 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 driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Drexel Heights Arizona.