How to Enroll in the Right Trucker 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 dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by enrolling in 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 an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Kingman home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based only on price is not the ideal means to make sure you'll receive the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations 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 remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Kingman AZ and throughout the United States, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and 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 brief summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Kingman AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized 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 if not more important. So following are some more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Kingman AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common 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 recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards 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 ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Kingman AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Kingman AZ schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few 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.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students 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 be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a good standard 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 Kingman AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff 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 restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Kingman AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. 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 competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Kingman AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain 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 attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Kingman AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Kingman AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Kingman Truck Driver Training
Selecting the ideal trucking school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Kingman Arizona.