How to Choose the Right Truck Driving 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 ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you'll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Litchfield Park residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to make certain you'll get the right training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you decide on 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 discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within Litchfield Park AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 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 required to operate 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Litchfield Park AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. 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 equally if not more important. So following are some additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Litchfield Park AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Litchfield Park AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Litchfield Park AZ schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driver school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Litchfield Park AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement 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 having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Litchfield Park AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted 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 competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Litchfield Park AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Litchfield Park AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are comparable 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. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Best Litchfield Park Truck Driver Training
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Litchfield Park Arizona.