How to Pick the Right Truck Driving School near Surprise Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Surprise AZ. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's important to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are various variables that you'll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you need to commute from your Surprise home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based solely on price is not the best way to ensure you'll get the appropriate education. Just remember, your objective 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 target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Surprise AZ, an operator needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The 3 license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that 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 as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Following are brief descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive 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 drive single vehicles having a GVWR of more 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 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 require endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Truck Driving School
After you have decided which CDL you wish to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of researching the Surprise AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So below are some more points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Surprise AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, 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. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Surprise AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won't supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the individual instruction they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Surprise AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it's important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and possibly the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and ask if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the real time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important 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 be. And even though driving time fluctuates between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Surprise AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. 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 contemplating are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As earlier noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's important that the Surprise AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Surprise AZ employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Surprise 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 reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Enroll in the Right Surprise AZ Truck Driving Training
Picking the right truck driver school is an important first step to starting your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent truck driver 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 choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Surprise AZ.