How to Select the Right Truck Driver Classes near Laveen Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Laveen AZ. Maybe 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 a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Laveen home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best way to make sure you'll obtain 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 objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Laveen AZ and throughout the USA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 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 driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Laveen AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Laveen AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver 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. However, even the best of Laveen AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing 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 following section. In addition, 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 attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Laveen 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 Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best 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 find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will furnish ample 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement 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 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. Get in touch with the Laveen AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular 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 affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Laveen AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. 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 accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Laveen AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. 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 have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask 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 referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Laveen AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Laveen AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Best Laveen CDL Training
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. 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 lacking funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Laveen Arizona.