How to Pick the Best CDL Training Classes near San Tan Valley Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near San Tan Valley 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 offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's important to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain factors that you'll need to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your San Tan Valley home. The expense will also be important, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to make sure you'll obtain the appropriate training. Don't forget, your objective 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 purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That 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 CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and San Tan Valley AZ, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are short summaries 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 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 may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
After you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the San Tan Valley AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are some additional points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the San Tan Valley AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 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 negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of San Tan Valley AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most San Tan Valley AZ schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors stay up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the best approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, 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 differs between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the San Tan Valley 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 a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the San Tan Valley AZ schools you are contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it's important that the San Tan Valley AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering 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 firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few San Tan Valley AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other San Tan Valley 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 examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Enroll in the Best San Tan Valley AZ Truck Driver Training
Selecting the right truck driver school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, 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 entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in San Tan Valley AZ.