How to Decide on the Right Truck Driver School near Avondale Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Avondale AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative 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 final choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Avondale residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to make sure you'll obtain the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge 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 decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review 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 the USA and Avondale AZ, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Avondale AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Avondale AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given lots 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 training and curriculum will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Avondale AZ schools had to start 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 pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior 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 make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Avondale AZ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified 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 instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will furnish 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he 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 furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Avondale AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Avondale AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 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 looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Avondale AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Avondale AZ employers recruiting their grads, 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. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Avondale AZ Truck Driver Training
Selecting the right truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new occupation 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 if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in 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 choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Avondale AZ.