How to Find the Right CDL Training Classes near Gilbert Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Gilbert AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Gilbert home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best means to guarantee you'll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams 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 remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Gilbert AZ, a driver must attain 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 topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short descriptions of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. A few 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 may also need endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Gilbert AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Gilbert AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Gilbert AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Gilbert AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor 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 instructors may be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will furnish sufficient 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 important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark 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 Gilbert AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Gilbert AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Gilbert AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For 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 attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance 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 poor job placement rate or few Gilbert AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Gilbert 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 evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Gilbert AZ CDL Driver Training
Choosing the right truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning 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 to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to look into 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 driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Gilbert AZ.