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How to Pick the Right Trucking School near Kingman Arizona

Kingman Arizona truck on side of highwayCongratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Kingman AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you'll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Kingman home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to make certain you'll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective 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 choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?

Kingman Arizona cement mixer truck

In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Kingman AZ, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions of the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 required to operate 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. Some 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 might also require endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.

How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School

Kingman Arizona CDL Driving school campus

Once you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Kingman AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are a few more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, 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 expense to the schools. On the other hand, 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Kingman AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to make sure 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 hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Kingman AZ schools offer training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a good standard 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 Kingman AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than maintaining 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 freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Kingman AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Kingman AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular 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 accommodate working hours or other obligations.

Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Kingman AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Kingman AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask if the schools you are evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.

Find Out More About Kingman Trucker Schools

Select the Best Kingman AZ Truck Driving Training

Picking the right trucking school is a critical first step to launching your new profession 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 offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success.  But first and foremost, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you may need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Kingman AZ.