How to Find the Best Truck Driving School near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Lake Havasu City AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to examine before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Lake Havasu City home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best way to guarantee you'll receive the proper education. Don't forget, your goal is to master 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 select 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 ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within Lake Havasu City AZ and throughout the USA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic 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 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 short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Lake Havasu City AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Lake Havasu City AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Lake Havasu City AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Lake Havasu City AZ schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will furnish sufficient 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Lake Havasu City AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified 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 a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Lake Havasu City AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Lake Havasu City AZ school you choose provides 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 instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Lake Havasu City AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Lake Havasu City AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Best Lake Havasu City Truck Driver Training
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to think about 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 select 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 get your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Lake Havasu City Arizona.