How to Pick the Right Trucking School near Drexel Heights Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Drexel Heights AZ. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Drexel Heights home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to make sure you'll get the proper training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Drexel Heights 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. Given that the topic 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 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 for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is required 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of researching the Drexel Heights AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Drexel Heights AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use 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 provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Drexel Heights AZ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide plenty 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Drexel Heights AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified 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 associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Drexel Heights AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive 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 truck driver 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 battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Drexel Heights AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Drexel Heights AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Drexel Heights AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Best Drexel Heights AZ CDL Training
Picking the ideal trucking school is a critical first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in 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 regardless of 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 Drexel Heights AZ.