How to Select the Best Truck Driving Classes near Buckeye Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Buckeye AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you'll need to think about before making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Buckeye home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to guarantee you'll obtain the right education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional 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 cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Buckeye AZ, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class 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). Following are brief explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 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. Some 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 may also require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example 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 authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucker School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Buckeye AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Buckeye AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Buckeye AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider 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 graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Buckeye AZ schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Buckeye AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified 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 associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Buckeye AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Buckeye AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Buckeye AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Buckeye AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Best Buckeye AZ CDL Training
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Buckeye AZ.