How to Choose the Best CDL Training Classes near Goodyear Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Goodyear AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Goodyear home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to make certain you'll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Goodyear AZ, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 explanations for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as 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 operate.
How to Research a Trucking School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Goodyear AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So following are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Goodyear AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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 a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively 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 first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that professes it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Goodyear AZ schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Goodyear AZ schools you are looking at and find out 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 particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Goodyear AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Goodyear AZ school you enroll in 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 willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Goodyear AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Goodyear AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Learn More About Goodyear Truck Driving Schools
Select the Right Goodyear AZ Truck Driving Training
Picking the right truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Goodyear AZ.