How to Select the Right CDL Training School near Glendale Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Glendale AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you'll want to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Glendale residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you'll receive the proper training. Don't forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Glendale AZ and throughout the United States, a driver 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 choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 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 CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Glendale AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Glendale AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated 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 Glendale AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention 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 professes 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 skillfully takes time. Most Glendale AZ schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind 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. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking school will furnish lots 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training 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 benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Glendale AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular 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 maintaining associations with many different 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 flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously 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 remember to inquire if the Glendale 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 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Glendale AZ school you enroll in provides 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 prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio 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 lower job placement rate or not many Glendale AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Glendale AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Glendale CDL Training
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, 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 America move as a professional trucker in Glendale Arizona.