How to Select the Right CDL Driving School near El Mirage Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near El Mirage AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your El Mirage home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to make certain 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 professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within El Mirage AZ and throughout the United States, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 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 choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 brief descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 needed 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. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate 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 El Mirage AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the El Mirage AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of El Mirage AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most El Mirage AZ schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide lots of 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the El Mirage AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific 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 a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the El Mirage AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the El Mirage AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many El Mirage AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other El Mirage AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Best El Mirage CDL Training
Picking the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge 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 obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, 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 a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in El Mirage Arizona.