How to Select the Right Trucking School near Goodyear Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Goodyear AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Goodyear residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you'll get the proper training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional 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 review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Goodyear AZ, an operator must 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 topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is needed to operate 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
When you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Goodyear AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Goodyear AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Goodyear AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking firms. 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 get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, 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 individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Goodyear AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver 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 driving a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative 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 differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Goodyear AZ schools you are researching and find out 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 specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Goodyear AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Goodyear AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Goodyear AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Goodyear AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Find Out More About Goodyear CDL Driver Schools
Choose the Right Goodyear AZ Truck Driver Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must obtain the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may 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 CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Goodyear AZ.