How to Decide on the Best CDL Training Classes near Casa Grande Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Casa Grande AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Casa Grande residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you'll receive the appropriate education. Don't forget, 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 goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Casa Grande AZ, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries 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 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 CDL is needed to operate 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 may also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of evaluating the Casa Grande AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Casa Grande AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Casa Grande AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, 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 individual instruction they will need. This is especially 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 be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Casa Grande AZ schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide lots 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 essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 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 Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified 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 a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Casa Grande AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Casa Grande 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 particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Casa Grande AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Casa Grande AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Best Casa Grande AZ Truck Driver Training
Choosing the right trucking 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 shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need 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 choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Casa Grande AZ.