How to Find the Best CDL Driving School near Prescott Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Prescott AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good income and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various factors that you'll need to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Prescott residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based only on price is not the best means to ensure you'll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Prescott AZ, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since 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 kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations of 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 greater than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 drive 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. Some 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 might also require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of researching the Prescott AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other issues, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are some more points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Prescott AZ area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Prescott AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next 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 regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Prescott AZ schools offer training programs that run from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Prescott AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific 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 associations with numerous 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 be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Prescott AZ schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it's essential that the Prescott AZ school you select 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 attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Prescott AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Prescott AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Select the Best Prescott AZ Truck Driving Training
Choosing the right truck driving school is a critical first step to launching your new vocation 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 several options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might want to look into 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 trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Prescott AZ.