How to Choose the Right CDL Driving Classes near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Lake Havasu City AZ. Perhaps it has always been your goal to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to obtain the proper 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 undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Lake Havasu City home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based only on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you'll get the proper training. Don't forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Lake Havasu City AZ, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select 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 together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 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 drive certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of assessing the Lake Havasu City AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several additional points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Lake Havasu City AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost 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 obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of Lake Havasu City AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a superior reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Lake Havasu City AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also important that the instructors keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Lake Havasu City 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 be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of maintaining relationships 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Lake Havasu City AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Lake Havasu City AZ school you choose offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to dedicate 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 fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Lake Havasu City AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Lake Havasu City AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
Choose the Right Lake Havasu City AZ Truck Driving Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even 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 choice, 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 part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Lake Havasu City AZ.