How to Pick the Right Trucking School near Bullhead City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Bullhead City AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll want to think about before making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Bullhead City home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal method to make certain you'll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations 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 discuss in the rest 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 Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Bullhead City AZ, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class 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 short explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Bullhead City AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driver schools in the Bullhead City AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive lots 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Bullhead City AZ schools had to start 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 relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting 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 teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Bullhead City AZ schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to 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 quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. 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. Contact the Bullhead City AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver 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 rather than maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Bullhead City AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Bullhead City AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate 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 fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads 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 Bullhead City AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Bullhead City AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Select the Best Bullhead City AZ CDL Driver Training
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Bullhead City AZ.