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How to Choose the Best Trucking Classes near Gilbert Arizona

Gilbert Arizona tractor trailer hauling cargoCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Gilbert AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you'll want to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Gilbert home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you'll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select 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 commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?

Gilbert Arizona truck traveling down highway

In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Gilbert AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of 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 more 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 needed 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 specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.

How to Assess a Trucking School

Gilbert Arizona concrete truck with patriotic paint job

When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Gilbert AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Gilbert AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered 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 standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving 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 top Gilbert AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking 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 teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning 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. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Gilbert AZ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among 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 Gilbert AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Gilbert AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking 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 advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Gilbert 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 spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Gilbert AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Gilbert AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.

Find Out More About Gilbert Truck Driving Classes

Enroll in the Right Gilbert Truck Driver Training

Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local 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 crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Gilbert Arizona.

 

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