How to Decide on the Best Trucking School near Chandler Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Chandler AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Chandler home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you'll obtain the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That 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 eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Chandler AZ, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are short summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 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 CDL is required to drive 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 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 require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucker School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Chandler AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Chandler AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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 a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 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 rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Chandler AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers 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 getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Chandler AZ schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several 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 instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive 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 a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates among schools, a good 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 Chandler AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Chandler AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Chandler AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Chandler AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Chandler AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Select the Best Chandler AZ Truck Driver Training
Selecting the right truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn 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 to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucking 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 regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Chandler AZ.