How to Decide on the Best CDL Training School near Maricopa Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Maricopa AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Maricopa home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal method to make certain you'll receive the proper education. Just remember, your objective is to learn 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 pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Maricopa AZ and throughout the USA, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 more 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 operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Maricopa AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are several additional things that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Maricopa AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking 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 best of Maricopa AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Maricopa AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide plenty of 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 driving 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 training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Maricopa AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Maricopa AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Maricopa AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Maricopa AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Maricopa AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Find Out More About Maricopa Trucking Training Schools
Choose the Best Maricopa CDL Training
Selecting the right truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, 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 joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Maricopa Arizona.
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