How to Decide on the Best CDL Training Classes near Paradise Valley Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Paradise Valley AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you'll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Paradise Valley residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you'll get the right training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional 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 address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Paradise Valley AZ and throughout the United States, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify 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 discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 CDL is required to drive 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Paradise Valley AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Paradise Valley AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, 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 clue to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Paradise Valley AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
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 talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Paradise Valley AZ schools offer 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 already stated, it's essential 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 criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful 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 little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will provide plenty of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Paradise Valley AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Paradise Valley AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide 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, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Paradise Valley AZ school you select 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 spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Paradise Valley AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Paradise Valley AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Find Out More About Paradise Valley Trucking Training Schools
Enroll in the Best Paradise Valley Truck Driver Training
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases 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 firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Paradise Valley Arizona.
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