How to Choose the Best Truck Driver Classes near New River Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near New River AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your New River home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll receive the proper education. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge 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 decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within New River AZ and throughout the United States, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 CDL is required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 might also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the New River AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the New River AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of New River 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 regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving 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 claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most New River 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 Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving 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 training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the New River AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the New River AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the New River AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many New River AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other New River AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right New River CDL Training
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge 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 big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in New River Arizona.