How to Choose the Right CDL Driving Classes near Scottsdale Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Scottsdale AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's imperative to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your final selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Scottsdale home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal means to make sure you'll get the right training. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver's license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Is Required?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Scottsdale AZ, a driver needs to get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates 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 short explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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 CDL 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Scottsdale AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some more things that you should research while conducting your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Scottsdale AZ area are accredited because of the demanding 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 certain advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver 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. Having said that, even the top Scottsdale AZ schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school's history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker 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 experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual instruction 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 insists it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Scottsdale AZ schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving 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 driving a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training tools, they are no substitute for actual 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 reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Scottsdale AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to get discounted or even free training from some truck driving schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer 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 tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Scottsdale AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is only about one to two months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Scottsdale AZ school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. 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 are proficient. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Scottsdale AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Scottsdale AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Scottsdale AZ Truck Driving Training
Selecting the right truck driving school is an important first step to starting 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 many options offered and understanding them is vital 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 manner. If you are short on funds or financing, you may need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced 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 company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It's your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Scottsdale AZ.