How to Choose the Best Trucking Classes near Chandler Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Chandler AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Chandler residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the best way to guarantee you'll receive the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations 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 address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Chandler AZ, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 CDL is needed 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. Several 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate 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 would like to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the Chandler AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are some additional factors that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Chandler AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training 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 business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Chandler AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Chandler AZ schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, 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 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 gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard 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 Chandler AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with 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 opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Chandler AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's essential that the Chandler AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate 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 accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Chandler AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Chandler AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Select the Best Chandler AZ Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets 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. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds 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 enroll in an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Chandler AZ.