How to Enroll in the Right CDL Driving School near Surprise Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a CDL school near Surprise AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to obtain the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you'll need to consider prior to making your final selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Surprise residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal way to guarantee you'll receive the appropriate education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the remainder 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 Is Required?
To operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Surprise AZ, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will address 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 short explanations of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate 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 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed 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. Several 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 might also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Trucker School
Once you have decided which CDL you wish to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Surprise AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are some additional things that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Surprise AZ area are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Surprise AZ schools had to start from their opening 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 share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the trade, 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 confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal 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 professes it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Surprise AZ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As already stated, it's imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the instructors keep current with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors might be a little more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few 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.
Adequate Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent truck driving 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are important training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Surprise AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Surprise AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is allowed in Arizona, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As previously noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it's important that the Surprise AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have obtained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be keen to start your new profession. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Surprise AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Surprise AZ area technical or vocational 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 assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Select the Right Surprise AZ CDL Training
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive 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 even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Surprise AZ.