How to Pick the Right Truck Driver Classes near Avondale Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Avondale AZ. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate 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 certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Avondale residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to ensure you'll obtain the right training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you select 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 talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Avondale AZ, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight 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). Following are brief descriptions 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. A few 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 needed 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Avondale AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are several more things 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 Avondale AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered 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 standard, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Avondale AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching 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 next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater 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 look out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Avondale AZ schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor 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. Evaluating instructors might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors 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.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish lots 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates 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 Avondale AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular 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 having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Avondale AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Avondale AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Avondale AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Avondale AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Best Avondale AZ Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain 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 may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Avondale AZ.