How to Pick the Right Truck Driving School near Kingman Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Kingman AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Kingman home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best method to ensure you'll receive the right training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Kingman AZ, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more 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 require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucker School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Kingman AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving 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 offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Kingman AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Kingman AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 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 instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several 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 teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Kingman AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can receive discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer 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 benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Kingman AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's imperative that the Kingman AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to spend more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Kingman AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are much like 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 evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Enroll in the Best Kingman AZ Truck Driver Training
Choosing the right truck driving school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to look into 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 choose an independent truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Kingman AZ.