How to Choose the Best Truck Driver School near Chandler Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Chandler AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Chandler home. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal method to make sure you'll receive the right education. Just remember, your objective 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 goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Chandler AZ, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions of 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 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 needed to drive 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. A few 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 operate specific types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Chandler AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are several more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Chandler AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective 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 mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess 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 be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Chandler AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the following segment. 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 obtaining 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 insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Chandler AZ schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little 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 speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute 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 fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Chandler AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Chandler AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short term, it's important that the Chandler AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national 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 grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Chandler AZ Truck Driving Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. 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 short on cash or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Chandler AZ.