How to Select the Best CDL Driving School near Kingman Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Kingman AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Kingman home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll obtain the right training. Don't forget, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 eventually need.
Which CDL Is Required?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Kingman AZ, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 CDL is required to operate 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 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 require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucker School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Kingman AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Kingman AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided 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 caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver 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. Having said that, even the top Kingman AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good 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 following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Kingman AZ schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As previously mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. After all, 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 important training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Kingman AZ schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships with many different 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 work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Kingman AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the Kingman AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Kingman AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Kingman 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 assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Best Kingman AZ CDL Driver Training
Selecting the right truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even 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 firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Kingman AZ.