How to Decide on the Right Trucking Classes 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 goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you'll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Drexel Heights home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to make certain you'll get the appropriate education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That 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 commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within Drexel Heights AZ and throughout the USA, an operator needs to obtain 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 select a truck driving 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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. Some 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 require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Drexel Heights AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense 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 obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically 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 consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. 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 obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Drexel Heights AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Drexel Heights AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of 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 giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Drexel Heights 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 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted 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 battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Drexel Heights AZ school you enroll in offers 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 accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Drexel Heights AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver 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. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Right Drexel Heights CDL Training
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance 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 critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want 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 choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Drexel Heights Arizona.