How to Select the Best Trucker School near Glendale Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Glendale AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Glendale home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the optimal way to make sure you'll obtain the appropriate education. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Glendale AZ, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will focus on 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). Below are brief explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. 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 CDL is needed to operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Glendale AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional things 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 Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Glendale AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, 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 several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Glendale AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. 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 affirms a superior reputation within the industry, 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 reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Glendale AZ schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained 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 a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish ample 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 tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Glendale AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Glendale AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Glendale AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate 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 Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Glendale AZ employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Glendale 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 assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Glendale AZ Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an important 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 forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even 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 firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Glendale AZ.