How to Select the Best Trucker Classes near Prescott Valley Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Prescott Valley AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to receive the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you'll want to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Prescott Valley residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the best means to make sure you'll get the proper education. Don't forget, your goal 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? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within Prescott Valley AZ and throughout the USA, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 needed 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 operate certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Prescott Valley AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are some more factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Prescott Valley AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, 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 train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Prescott Valley AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. After all, 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark 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 Prescott Valley AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Prescott Valley AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Prescott Valley AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Prescott Valley AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Prescott Valley AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Right Prescott Valley CDL Training
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Prescott Valley Arizona.