How to Select the Best Truck Driving School near Gilbert Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Gilbert AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you'll want to examine prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Gilbert home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to make sure you'll get the right training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Gilbert AZ, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and 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 brief descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 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 required 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 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 might also need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Gilbert AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So following are some more factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Gilbert AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Gilbert AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. 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 obtaining the personalized instruction 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 professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. The majority of Gilbert AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods 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 a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driving school will provide 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Gilbert AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Gilbert AZ schools you are looking at 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 third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. 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 contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Gilbert AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Verify 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 national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Gilbert AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Gilbert AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Best Gilbert AZ Truck Driver Training
Choosing the right trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new profession 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 several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to consider 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 enroll in an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Gilbert AZ.