How to Find the Best CDL Driving Classes near Scottsdale Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Scottsdale AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it's essential to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several variables that you'll need to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Scottsdale residence. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to make sure 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 exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target 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 eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Scottsdale AZ, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and 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). Following are brief summaries of the two 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 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 needed to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Scottsdale AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. 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 below are a few additional points that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Scottsdale AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, 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 several advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Scottsdale AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also find out what the school's track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to contact the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual 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 be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Scottsdale AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although 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 current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time varies between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Scottsdale AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Scottsdale AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering 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 facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Accessible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Scottsdale AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? Once you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Scottsdale AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Scottsdale AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid 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.
Choose the Right Scottsdale AZ CDL Training
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you may want to think about 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 choose 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 decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Scottsdale AZ.