How to Decide on the Best Truck Driver Classes near Casa Grande Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking 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 maybe you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work prospects. 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 need to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Casa Grande residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best method to make sure you'll receive the proper training. Don't forget, 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 purpose in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder 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 Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Casa Grande AZ, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will focus on 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). Below are brief descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Casa Grande AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are some more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Casa Grande AZ area are accredited because of the demanding 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 several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Casa Grande AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn 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 have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Casa Grande AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to 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.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide sufficient 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Casa Grande AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different 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 be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Casa Grande AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Casa Grande AZ school you select 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 teacher should be willing to spend more time with you until you are proficient. 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 Assistance Offered? Once you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Casa Grande AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Casa Grande AZ area vocational or trade 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 a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Select the Right Casa Grande AZ Truck Driver Training
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Casa Grande AZ.