How to Select the Right Trucking School near Paradise Valley Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Paradise Valley AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Paradise Valley home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best method to make certain you'll receive the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Paradise Valley AZ and throughout the USA, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three 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 focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 Commercial Drivers License is required 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 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 need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Paradise Valley AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Paradise Valley AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense 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 required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For 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 comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Paradise Valley AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Paradise Valley AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will provide ample 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Paradise Valley AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Paradise Valley AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Paradise Valley AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at 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 firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Paradise Valley AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking schools are similar to colleges and other Paradise Valley AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. 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 submitted.
Enroll in the Best Paradise Valley Truck Driver Training
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might need to consider 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 choose an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Paradise Valley Arizona.