How to Pick the Best Truck Driving Classes near Glendale Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Glendale AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work 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 assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll need to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Glendale residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal method to make sure you'll obtain the proper training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable 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? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk 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 United States and Glendale AZ, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate 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 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 required to drive 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. A few 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 need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the process of evaluating the Glendale AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Glendale AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving 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 begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective 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. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction 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 teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Glendale AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to 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 qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide ample driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Glendale AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Glendale AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Glendale AZ school you choose 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 prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Glendale AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Trucking 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 offered. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Best Glendale AZ Truck Driver Training
Choosing the right truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Glendale AZ.