How to Choose the Right Truck Driver School near Flowing Wells Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Flowing Wells AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to examine before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Flowing Wells residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Flowing Wells AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to attain 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. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class 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 Commercial Drivers License 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. Several 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Flowing Wells AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Flowing Wells AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Flowing Wells AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking 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 instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Flowing Wells AZ schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although 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 up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Flowing Wells AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Flowing Wells AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Flowing Wells AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Flowing Wells AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Flowing Wells 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 evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Flowing Wells Truck Driver Training
Picking the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold 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 appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Flowing Wells Arizona.