How to Pick the Best Trucker School near Prescott Valley Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Prescott Valley 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 analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Prescott Valley residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to ensure you'll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder 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 Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within Prescott Valley AZ and throughout the USA, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify 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 discuss Class A and 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). Below are brief summaries of the 2 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 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 Commercial Drivers License 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 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Prescott Valley AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Prescott Valley AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense 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 several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically 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 begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Prescott Valley AZ schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Prescott Valley AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as 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 work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects 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 Prescott Valley AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Prescott Valley AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. 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 obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Prescott Valley AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Prescott Valley AZ area trade or technical 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 least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Learn More About Prescott Valley Truck Driver Schools
Choose the Right Prescott Valley CDL Training
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may 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 select an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Prescott Valley Arizona.
PRESCOTT VALLEY CDL SCHOOLS | MAIN | PRESCOTT VALLEY TRUCKER SCHOOLS