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How to Pick the Best Truck Driver Classes near Golden Valley Arizona

Golden Valley Arizona truck hauling payloadCongratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Golden Valley AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Golden Valley residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the ideal means to make sure you'll obtain the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.

Which CDL Will You Require?

Golden Valley Arizona tractor trailer traveling down expressway

To operate commercial vehicles legally within Golden Valley 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 qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are short descriptions for the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required 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 CDL 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. Some 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 might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.

How to Research a Truck Driving School

Golden Valley Arizona concrete truck with flag paint job

When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Golden Valley AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are a few more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Golden Valley AZ area are accredited because of the demanding 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 obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Golden Valley AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Golden Valley AZ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.

How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish lots 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Golden Valley 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 truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Golden Valley AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Golden Valley AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Golden Valley AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Golden Valley AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.

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Choose the Best Golden Valley Truck Driver Training

Selecting the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape 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. However, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Golden Valley Arizona.

 

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