How to Select the Right Truck Driving School near El Mirage Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near El Mirage AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to examine before making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your El Mirage home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to ensure you'll obtain the right education. Just remember, your objective is to learn 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 decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance 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 Is Required?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and El Mirage AZ, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class 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 for the 2 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. 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 CDL is needed 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 CDLs might also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the El Mirage AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are some more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the El Mirage AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 meet 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 poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of El Mirage AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of El Mirage AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the El Mirage AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous 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 freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the El Mirage AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the El Mirage AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit 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 commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few El Mirage AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking 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 offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best El Mirage AZ CDL Training
Selecting the right truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold 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. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in El Mirage AZ.