How to Decide on the Right Truck Driver School near Casa Grande Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Casa Grande AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you'll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Casa Grande residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you'll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Casa Grande AZ, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and 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). Below are brief explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 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 need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Casa Grande AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few 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 Casa Grande AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Casa Grande AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. 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 concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Casa Grande AZ schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, 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 requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual 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 instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Casa Grande AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Casa Grande AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several 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 reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Casa Grande AZ school you choose 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 teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Casa Grande AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Casa Grande 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 examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Casa Grande AZ Truck Driver Training
Selecting the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to starting your new profession 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 many options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases 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 choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Casa Grande AZ.