How to Enroll in the Right CDL Driving School near Tempe Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Tempe AZ. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible work prospects. Whatever your reason is, it's essential to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you'll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Tempe home. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal method to ensure you'll get the right training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that target in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Tempe AZ, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver's License). The three classes of licenses 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 driving school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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 brief explanations 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 greater 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 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 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 CDLs may also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.
How to Assess a Trucker School
When you have decided which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Tempe AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly or even more important. So below are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Tempe AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real 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 meet the very high benchmarks 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 business. 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 first 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 employment of its graduating students. If a school won't share those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it's any higher, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is particularly 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 drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Tempe AZ schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it's essential that the teachers are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, a good trucking school will furnish plenty 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. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 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 Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So instead of having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Tempe AZ schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief term, it's essential that the Tempe AZ school you enroll in provides 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 willing to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Tempe AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Tempe AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed.
Choose the Right Tempe AZ Truck Driving Training
Picking the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new vocation 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 several options available and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on money or financing, you might want to think about a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It's your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Tempe AZ.