How to Enroll in the Right CDL Driving Classes near Glendale Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Glendale AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Glendale residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you'll receive the proper education. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose 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 ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Glendale AZ, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 greater 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Glendale AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As already mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are several more things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Glendale AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Glendale AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Glendale AZ schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already mentioned, it's imperative that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Glendale AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different 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 surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make 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 a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Glendale AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular 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 commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Glendale AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Glendale AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Choose the Best Glendale AZ Truck Driver Training
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on cash or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter 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.