How to Select the Best Truck Driving School near Surprise Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Surprise AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you'll want to think about before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Surprise residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the ideal way to ensure you'll obtain the appropriate training. Just remember, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover 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 Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Surprise AZ, an operator 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 subject of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes 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 short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive 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 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 need endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Evaluate a Trucker School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Surprise AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few trucking schools in the Surprise AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school's course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Surprise AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be getting the individual instruction 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 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. The majority of Surprise AZ schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and ask if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driving school will provide sufficient 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. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time can vary among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Surprise AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It's possible to obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having associations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Surprise AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it's important that the Surprise AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit 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? The moment you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Surprise AZ employers recruiting their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other Surprise AZ area trade or technical 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 navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Select the Right Surprise AZ Truck Driving Training
Choosing the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are several options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may 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 CDL school and have the option of driving for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated 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 our country move as a professional trucker in Surprise AZ.