How to Enroll in the Best Truck Driving Classes near Laveen Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Laveen AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you'll want to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Laveen home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to make certain you'll receive the proper education. Don't forget, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss 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 CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Laveen AZ and throughout the United States, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 descriptions 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 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 more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Laveen AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some more factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Laveen AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Laveen AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting 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 relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Laveen AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of 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 current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Laveen AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Laveen AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Laveen AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Laveen AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Laveen AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Best Laveen CDL Training
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Laveen Arizona.