How to Pick the Right CDL Training School near San Tan Valley Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near San Tan Valley AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various factors that you'll need to examine before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your San Tan Valley residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to make certain you'll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and San Tan Valley AZ, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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. Some 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 need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a CDL School
Once you have decided which CDL you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the San Tan Valley AZ truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So following are some more things that you need to research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the San Tan Valley AZ area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated 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 San Tan Valley AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of San Tan Valley AZ schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to 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 level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a great truck driving school will provide sufficient driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Contact the San Tan Valley AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific 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 relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the San Tan Valley AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As previously noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the San Tan Valley AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be eager to start 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 local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many San Tan Valley AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other San Tan Valley AZ area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Select the Right San Tan Valley AZ CDL Training
Selecting the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to launching 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 several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must get the proper training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want 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 choose an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in San Tan Valley AZ.