How to Choose the Right CDL Driving School near El Mirage Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near El Mirage AZ. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your El Mirage residence. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll obtain the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional 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 address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk 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 United States and El Mirage AZ, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will focus on Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind 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 summaries of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 CDL is needed 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. 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 might also need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the proper needed endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can start the process of assessing the El Mirage AZ trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several more things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the El Mirage AZ area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a truck driver 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. However, even the best of El Mirage AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional 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 assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and employ instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is especially true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach 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 El Mirage AZ schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the instructors in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, 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 actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the El Mirage AZ schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain free or discounted training from some trucking schools if you enter into an agreement 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 rather than maintaining relationships with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the El Mirage 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 truck driving schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering 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 facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the El Mirage AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain 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 attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new profession. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few El Mirage AZ employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other El Mirage AZ area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask 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 need to be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near El Mirage AZ?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the El Mirage Arizona area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
El Mirage, Arizona
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,609 people, 2,121 households, and 1,737 families residing in the city. The population density was 786.8 people per square mile (303.8/km²). There were 3,162 housing units at an average density of 326.9 per square mile (126.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 66.26% White, 3.29% Black or African American, 0.85% Native American, 0.38% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 26.18% from other races, and 2.98% from two or more races. 66.82% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 2,121 households out of which 48.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.3% were married couples living together, 17.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.1% were non-families. 13.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.59 and the average family size was 3.87.
In the city, the population was spread out with 36.8% under the age of 18, 14.1% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 13.8% from 45 to 64, and 6.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females, there were 105.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.0 males.
Class B Truck Driving Schools El Mirage AZ
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new occupation 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 several options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Class B Truck Driving Schools. But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to consider 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 choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in El Mirage AZ.
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