How to Choose the Best CDL Training School near Fountain Hills Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Fountain Hills AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you'll want to consider before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Fountain Hills residence. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the best means to make certain you'll obtain the proper training. Don't forget, your goal 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 purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest 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?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Fountain Hills AZ and throughout the United States, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three 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 driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Fountain Hills AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Fountain Hills AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated 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 Fountain Hills AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual 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 relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Fountain Hills AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide lots 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential 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 become. And even though driving time can vary 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. Contact the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Fountain Hills AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at 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 locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Fountain Hills 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 teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. 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 commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Fountain Hills AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Fountain Hills AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Fountain Hills Truck Driver Training
Choosing the right truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Fountain Hills Arizona.