How to Select the Right CDL Driving Classes near Tempe Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Tempe AZ. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to get the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various variables that you'll want to examine before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you need to commute from your Tempe residence. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best means to make sure you'll get the right education. Don't forget, your goal is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal 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 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 Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Tempe AZ, an operator must attain 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. Since the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and Class 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 short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater 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 Commercial Drivers License is required 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. 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 operate certain kinds of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
After you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Tempe AZ truck driving schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial considerations. But it can't be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So following are a few more factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Tempe AZ area are accredited because of the rigorous process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more typical and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 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 curriculum and training will measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Tempe AZ schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also learn what the school's history is pertaining 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 numerous contacts not only confirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea 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 Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining 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 professes it can train you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Tempe AZ schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, depending on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also crucial that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent 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 actual time spent behind the wheel driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. And even though driving time differs between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Tempe 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 truck driver 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 provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with many different 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. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to ask if the Tempe AZ schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it's essential that the Tempe AZ school you choose offers 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 teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you're still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a low job placement rate or few Tempe AZ employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Tempe 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 reviewing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Select the Right Tempe AZ CDL Training
Choosing the ideal trucking school is an important first step to starting your new occupation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on money or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced 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 choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Tempe AZ.