How to Pick a CDL Training School Gilbert Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Gilbert AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Gilbert home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to make certain you’ll receive the proper education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Gilbert AZ, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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 brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed 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 CDL is required to operate 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. A few 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Gilbert AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are several additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Gilbert AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Gilbert AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Gilbert AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers 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 level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide plenty 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Gilbert AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. 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 receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Gilbert AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Gilbert AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Gilbert AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Gilbert AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Attending Truck Driving School near Gilbert AZ?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Gilbert Arizona area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Gilbert is a town in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, located southeast of Phoenix, within the Phoenix metropolitan area. Once known as the "Hay Shipping Capital of the World", It is the sixth-largest municipality in Arizona, and the fifth-largest in the Metropolitan Phoenix Area.
Gilbert encompasses 76 square miles (197 km2) and has made a rapid transformation from an agriculture-based community to an economically diverse suburban center located in the southeast valley of the Greater Phoenix area. In the last three decades, Gilbert has grown at an extremely high rate, increasing in population from 5,717 in 1980 to 208,453 as of the 2010 census. The town grew at an average annual growth rate of nearly 13% during this 30-year period.
Gilbert owes its beginnings to William "Bobby" Gilbert who provided land to the Arizona Eastern Railway in 1902 to construct a rail line between Phoenix and Florence, Arizona. Ayer's Grocery Store, the first store in Gilbert, opened in 1910 and became the location of the first post office in 1912. The location of the town post office moved several times before settling on the east side of Gilbert Road in downtown, where it still stands today. In 1912, many Mormons who had fled the Mormon colonies in Mexico due to the actions of the forces of Pancho Villa settled in Gilbert. By 1915, they began holding church meetings at the Gilbert Elementary School. In 1918, they were organized into the Gilbert Ward.
Choose the Ideal CDL School Gilbert AZ
Picking the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial 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 safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company 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 in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Gilbert AZ.
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