How to Select the Right CDL Training School near El Mirage Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near El Mirage AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your El Mirage residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best method to ensure you'll receive the right 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 qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and El Mirage AZ, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three 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 pick a truck driver school, we will focus on 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). Below are short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the El Mirage AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the El Mirage AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense 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 obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive 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 course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of El Mirage AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. 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 share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of El Mirage AZ schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods 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 successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will provide ample 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, 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 among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the El Mirage AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff 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 beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the El Mirage AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's important that the El Mirage AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote 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 accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many El Mirage AZ employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other El Mirage AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out 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 must be submitted.
Choose the Right El Mirage AZ CDL Driver Training
Picking the right trucking school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that mold 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 get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in El Mirage AZ.