How to Select the Right CDL Driving School near Mesa Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Mesa AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Mesa home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to ensure you'll get the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Mesa AZ and throughout the USA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify 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 discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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. 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Mesa AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So following are several additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Mesa AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Mesa AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use 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 stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking 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 hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal 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 professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Mesa AZ schools provide training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient 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 important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Mesa AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Mesa AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver 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 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 indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Mesa AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Mesa AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Mesa AZ area trade or technical 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 get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Learn More About Mesa Trucker Training Schools
Choose the Right Mesa Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation 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 many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving 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 choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Mesa Arizona.