How to Select the Best Trucker Classes near Drexel Heights Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Drexel Heights AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Drexel Heights home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best method to make certain you'll obtain the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address 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 Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Drexel Heights AZ, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject 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 descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to operate specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
Once you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Drexel Heights AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Drexel Heights AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking 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. However, even the best of Drexel Heights AZ schools had to start 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 employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify 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 hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Drexel Heights AZ schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques 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 important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish plenty 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. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Drexel Heights AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit 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 looking at 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 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's essential that the Drexel Heights AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have obtained 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 contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Drexel Heights AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Drexel Heights 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 assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Select the Right Drexel Heights AZ CDL Training
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Drexel Heights AZ.