How to Pick the Best Trucking School near Litchfield Park Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Litchfield Park AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you'll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Litchfield Park residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to make certain you'll receive the right education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Litchfield Park AZ and throughout the United States, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses 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 highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Following are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 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. 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 CDLs might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Litchfield Park AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are a few additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Litchfield Park AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost 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 obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure 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 be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Litchfield Park AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking 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 trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Litchfield Park AZ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several 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 teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Litchfield Park AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous 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 giving up 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 ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Litchfield Park AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Litchfield Park AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio 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 low job placement rate or few Litchfield Park AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Litchfield Park AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Litchfield Park CDL Training
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might 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 enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Litchfield Park Arizona.