How to Pick a CDL Training School near Phoenix Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Phoenix AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain factors that you’ll need to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Phoenix home. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal way to make sure you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal 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 ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Require?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully in Arizona and within the USA, a driver must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school near Phoenix AZ, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate together with 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 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. 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driver School
Once you have determined which CDL you wish to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Phoenix AZ truck driver schools that you are looking at. As previously discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other issues, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are a few additional things that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Phoenix AZ truck driver schools are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is provided 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 get plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks 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 poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Phoenix AZ schools had to begin from their first 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 employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers 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 attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Phoenix AZ schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing teachers might be a little more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the best method is to visit the Phoenix AZ school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish sufficient 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 driving a truck. Even though the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time differs among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Phoenix AZ schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain Phoenix AZ trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the Phoenix AZ schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates from other schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Convenient? As formerly noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Phoenix AZ school you select 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 instructor should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Assistance Offered? Once you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career in Phoenix AZ. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers hiring their graduates, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Ask 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 must be submitted in Phoenix AZ.
Why Did You Desire to Be a Tractor Trailer Operator?When preparing to interview for a Trucking job, it's advantageous to reflect on questions you may be asked. One of the questions that interviewers often ask truck driving prospects is "What compelled you to select trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is attempting to learn is not just the personal reasons you may have for being a trucker, but also what attributes and skills you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will probably be asked questions relating specifically to trucking, in addition to a significant number of general interview questions, so you should prepare a number of approaches about how you want to answer them. Since there are numerous factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, attempt to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the talents you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the perfiect choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize a response, but jot down several concepts and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reviewing sample answers can assist you to prepare your own concepts, and give you ideas of what to include to impress the recruiter.
Select the Ideal Trucking School Phoenix AZ
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Phoenix AZ.
A Bit About Phoenix Arizona
Phoenix (/ˈfiːnɪks/) is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Arizona. With 1,615,017 people (as of 2016[update]), Phoenix is the fifth most populous city nationwide, the most populous state capital in the United States, and the only state capital with a population of more than one million residents.
Phoenix is the anchor of the Phoenix metropolitan area, also known as the Valley of the Sun, which in turn is a part of the Salt River Valley. The metropolitan area is the 12th largest by population in the United States, with approximately 4.3 million people as of 2010[update]. In addition, Phoenix is the seat of Maricopa County and, at 517.9 square miles (1,341 km2), it is the largest city in the state, more than twice the size of Tucson and one of the largest cities in the United States.
Settled in 1867 as an agricultural community near the confluence of the Salt and Gila Rivers, Phoenix incorporated as a city in 1881. Located in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert, Phoenix has a subtropical desert climate. Despite this, its canal system led to a thriving farming community, many of the original crops remaining important parts of the Phoenix economy for decades, such as alfalfa, cotton, citrus, and hay (which was important for the cattle industry). In fact, the "Five C's" (Cotton, Cattle, Citrus, Climate, and Copper), remained the driving forces of Phoenix's economy until after World War II, when high-tech industries began to move into the valley and air conditioning made residences much more comfortable in the very hot summers.
The city averaged a four percent annual population growth rate over a 40-year period from the mid-1960s to the mid-2000s. This growth rate slowed during the Great Recession of 2007–09, and has rebounded slowly. Phoenix is the cultural center of the Valley of the Sun, as well as the entire state.
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