How to Choose a Trucking School near El Mirage Arizona
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near El Mirage AZ. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or maybe you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to receive the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider before making your final choice. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your El Mirage residence. The cost will also be important, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate training. Don’t forget, your goal is to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose 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 review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles legally in Arizona and within the United States, a driver needs to 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 subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school near El Mirage AZ, we will highlight 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). Following are brief explanations for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Some 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 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. 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 require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can start the process of researching the El Mirage AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As previously discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other factors, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are a few more points that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few El Mirage AZ truck driver schools are accredited because of the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the best of El Mirage AZ schools had to start 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 job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Arizona licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal attention 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 claims it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most El Mirage AZ schools offer training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the El Mirage AZ school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent 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. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the El Mirage AZ schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from some El Mirage AZ trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, ask if the El Mirage AZ schools you are looking at are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier noted, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months long. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the El Mirage AZ school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an 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 are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Provided? The moment you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be keen to start your new profession in El Mirage AZ. Make sure that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Trucking schools are much like colleges and other vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted in El Mirage AZ.
Why Did You Want to Become a Tractor Trailer Operator?When preparing to interview for a Trucking position, it's advantageous to consider questions you might be asked. Among the questions that hiring managers typically ask truck driving applicants is "What compelled you to choose trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is hoping to uncover is not only the private reasons you might have for being a trucker, but also what qualities and skills you possess that make you exceptional at what you do. You will likely be asked questions relating exclusively to trucking, along with a certain number of standard interview questions, so you must organize some approaches about how you would like to address them. Considering there are so many variables that go into selecting a career, you can address this primary question in a multitude of ways. When readying an answer, try to include the reasons the profession interests you as well as the abilities you have that make you an outstanding truck driver and the leading choice for the position. Don't make an effort to memorize an answer, but jot down several ideas and topics that pertain to your own experiences and strengths. Reading through sample answers can assist you to prepare your own thoughts, and inspire ideas of what to discuss to impress the recruiter.
Select the Ideal Truck Driver School El Mirage AZ
Selecting the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to starting your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want 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 school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in El Mirage AZ.
A Bit About El Mirage Arizona
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.
The median income for a household in the city was $33,813, and the median income for a family was $33,468. Males had a median income of $25,176 versus $19,192 for females. The per capita income for the city was $10,342. About 12.6% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.2% of those under age 18 and 22.0% of those age 65 or over.
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