How to Select the Best Truck Driving Classes near Surprise Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Surprise AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it's important to receive the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to think about prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Surprise home. The expense will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal method to make sure you'll obtain the right training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable 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 commercial driver's license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Surprise AZ, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three license classes that one can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on 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 of the 2 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. 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 required to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucker School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Surprise AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are several more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Surprise AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated 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 an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 curriculum and training will meet the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Surprise AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school's track record is pertaining to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn't hurt to contact the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering 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 talk more about the instructors in the following section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal 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 claims it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Surprise AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously 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 be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver 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 operating a truck. While the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Surprise AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive 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 rather than maintaining affiliations 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 freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Surprise AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, truck driver training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Surprise AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you're having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have attained your commercial driver's license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Surprise AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Surprise AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. 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 must be completed.
Choose the Right Surprise AZ CDL Training
Picking the appropriate trucking school is an essential first step to launching your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver's success. However, you must receive the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Surprise AZ.