How to Select the Right Trucking Classes near Mesa Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Mesa AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it's imperative 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 want to think about before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Mesa home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to guarantee you'll receive the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Mesa AZ, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 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 needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 might also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Mesa AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are a few additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Mesa AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Mesa AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the personalized 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 claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Mesa AZ schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driver school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Mesa AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can get free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Mesa AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling 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 superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it's imperative that the Mesa AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to dedicate 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 obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to begin your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance 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 firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Mesa AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other Mesa AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Choose the Best Mesa AZ Truck Driving Training
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to launching your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Mesa AZ.