How to Select the Right Truck Driving Classes near Peoria Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Peoria AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it's imperative to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you'll need to think about before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Peoria residence. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to make certain you'll receive the proper education. Don't forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable 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 discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Peoria AZ, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick 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 as well as 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 CDL is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Peoria AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are some more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Peoria 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 obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Peoria AZ schools had to begin 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 concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction 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 claims it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Peoria AZ schools provide training courses that run 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 mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will furnish lots of 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies 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. Check with the Peoria AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain 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 amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations 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 giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Peoria AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit 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 reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Peoria AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Peoria AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Peoria AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be completed.
Select the Right Peoria AZ Truck Driver Training
Choosing the right truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the necessary training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need 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 driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Peoria AZ.