How to Find the Right CDL Training School near Bullhead City Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Bullhead City AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Bullhead City residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to guarantee you'll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Bullhead City AZ, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Several 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 types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Bullhead City AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional things 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 driving schools in the Bullhead City AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided 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 get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Bullhead City AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, 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 instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Bullhead City AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's imperative 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 qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, 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 tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Bullhead City AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Bullhead City AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Bullhead City AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are contemplating 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 companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Bullhead City AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Bullhead City AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Find Out More About Bullhead City Trucking Schools
Select the Best Bullhead City AZ CDL Training
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local 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. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Bullhead City AZ.