How to Find the Right CDL Driving Classes near Glendale Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Glendale AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's essential to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Glendale home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll receive the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Glendale AZ, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can apply 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 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 summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed 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. Some 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 types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucker School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the process of researching the Glendale AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed 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 following are several additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Glendale AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 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 operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Glendale AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a quality 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 should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists 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. Most Glendale AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach 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 find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Glendale AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Glendale AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Glendale AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working 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 profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Glendale AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Glendale AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Right Glendale AZ Truck Driver Training
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a large 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 reduced or even 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 many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Glendale AZ.