How to Find the Best Truck Driving School near Kingman Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Kingman AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Kingman residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you'll obtain the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Kingman AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to attain 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 driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 CDL 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. Some 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 may also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger 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 operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Kingman AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Kingman AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Kingman AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Kingman AZ schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's important 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 criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students 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 be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Kingman AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Kingman AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Kingman AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing 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? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Kingman AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Kingman 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 aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Enroll in the Right Kingman CDL Training
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Kingman Arizona.