How to Choose the Best Trucker 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 dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to examine before making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your El Mirage home. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based entirely on price is not the best method to make sure you'll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow 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 review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and El Mirage AZ, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate 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 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the El Mirage AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the El Mirage AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical 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 know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver 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. Having said that, even the best of El Mirage AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention 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 professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most El Mirage AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real 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 training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the El Mirage AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a particular 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 maintaining affiliations 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 giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the El Mirage AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driving training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the El Mirage AZ school you select provides 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 willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few El Mirage AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other El Mirage AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Best El Mirage AZ CDL Driver Training
Picking the ideal trucking school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape 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 proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. 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 by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in El Mirage AZ.