How to Enroll in the Best Trucking School near Kingman Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Kingman AZ. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Kingman residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to make sure you'll obtain the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal 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 balance 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 United States and Kingman AZ, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick 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 in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations of 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 more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 CDL is needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 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 require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Kingman AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional factors that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driver schools in the Kingman AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous 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 required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Kingman AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal instruction 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Kingman AZ schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As already stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to visit 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 quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 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 discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Kingman AZ schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months in length. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Kingman AZ school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. 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 obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Kingman AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Kingman AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Kingman AZ Truck Driving Training
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught 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. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Kingman AZ.