How to Choose the Best 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 possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you'll want to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Glendale home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you'll receive the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Glendale AZ, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Following are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 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 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. 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 may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucker School
After you have decided which CDL you would like to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Glendale AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Glendale AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Glendale AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be getting the personal instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Glendale AZ schools provide training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, 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 may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. 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 find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Glendale AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously mentioned, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's imperative that the Glendale AZ school you enroll in provides 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 willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement 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 referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Glendale AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? 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 aid being available. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Best Glendale AZ Truck Driver Training
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an essential 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 offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Glendale AZ.