How to Choose the Right CDL Driving Classes near Lake Havasu City Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL 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 perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Lake Havasu City home. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the best method to guarantee you'll get the right training. Don't forget, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Lake Havasu City AZ, an operator needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class 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). Following are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for instance school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Lake Havasu City AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are several more points that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Lake Havasu City AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. For 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Lake Havasu City AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining 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 insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Lake Havasu City AZ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though 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 important that the teachers keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide plenty 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 necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 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 Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular 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 associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Lake Havasu City AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 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 accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Lake Havasu City AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend 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 responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Lake Havasu City AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Lake Havasu City 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Select the Right Lake Havasu City AZ Truck Driving Training
Picking the ideal trucking school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must get the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driving school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several associated 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 Lake Havasu City AZ.