How to Choose the Right CDL Training Classes near Maricopa Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Maricopa AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Maricopa home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best method to ensure you'll obtain the proper education. Just remember, 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 target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Maricopa AZ, an operator must 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 choose a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as 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 operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 CDL is needed 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. A few of the vehicles that operators may be qualified to drive 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 drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the Maricopa AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are a few more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Maricopa AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Maricopa AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Maricopa AZ schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already 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 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 current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Maricopa AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having relationships with many different 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 giving up the freedom 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 ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Maricopa AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it's important that the Maricopa AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time 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 working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Maricopa AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Maricopa 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 assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Right Maricopa AZ CDL Driver Training
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Maricopa AZ.