How to Select the Best Trucking School near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Lake Havasu City AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Lake Havasu City home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you'll get the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Lake Havasu City AZ and throughout the USA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are brief summaries of 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 greater 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 more 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 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Lake Havasu City AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Lake Havasu City AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator 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 normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Lake Havasu City AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Lake Havasu City AZ schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Lake Havasu City AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive 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 refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work 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 best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Lake Havasu City AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Lake Havasu City AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain 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 must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Lake Havasu City AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Lake Havasu City AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Best Lake Havasu City Truck Driver Training
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might 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 trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Lake Havasu City Arizona.