How to Decide on a CDL Training School near Laveen Arizona
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Laveen AZ. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers excellent income and flexible job opportunities. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to examine prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will undoubtedly be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Laveen home. The cost will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal means to guarantee you’ll get the appropriate training. Just remember, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally in Arizona and within the USA, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to choose a truck driver school near Laveen AZ, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short explanations of the two 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 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 CDL is needed 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. A few 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 drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a CDL School
As soon as you have determined which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Laveen AZ truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for example the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly if not more important. So below are several additional points that you should research while conducting your due diligence before choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few Laveen AZ truck driver schools are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get lots of driving time. As an 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 measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? 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 typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Laveen AZ schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Arizona licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arizona and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the following section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Laveen AZ schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the Laveen 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, a great truck driving school will provide 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 operating a truck. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary 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. Check with the Laveen AZ schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from some Laveen AZ truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined amount of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arizona, find out if the Laveen AZ schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arizona testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a short term, it’s important that the Laveen AZ school you choose provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to devote more time with you until you are proficient. 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 obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious to start your new career in Laveen AZ. Confirm that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or few employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are similar to 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 assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be completed in Laveen AZ.
Why Did You Choose to Become a Tractor Trailer Operator?When getting ready to interview for a Trucking position, it's a good idea to review questions you might be asked. One of the questions that interviewers typically ask truck driving candidates is "What compelled you to decide on trucking as a profession?". What the interviewer is trying to learn is not only the personal reasons you may have for being a truck driver, but also what qualities and skills you possess that make you outstanding at your profession. You will probably be asked questions pertaining exclusively to trucking, as well as a certain number of standard interview questions, so you need to prepare several ideas about how you would like to respond to them. Since there are so many variables that go into choosing a career, you can respond to this primary question in a number of ways. When formulating an answer, aim to include the reasons the profession appeals to you in addition to the strengths you possess that make you an exceptional truck driver and the perfiect candidate for the job. Don't try to memorize a response, but take down some ideas and anecdotes that relate to your personal strengths and experiences. Reading through sample responses can help you to prepare your own concepts, and provide ideas of what to include to wow the recruiter.
Select the Ideal Truck Driver School Laveen AZ
Choosing the appropriate truck driver school is an essential first step to launching your new profession 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 a number of options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. Most importantly, you must obtain the proper training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may want to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Laveen AZ.
A Bit About Laveen Arizona
Laveen /ləˈviːn/ is an "urban village" within the city of Phoenix in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, situated eight miles (13 km) southwest of Downtown Phoenix between South Mountain and the confluence of the Gila and Salt rivers. Parts of Laveen constitute an unincorporated community in Maricopa County, while the remainder falls within the city limits of Phoenix, constituting the city's "Laveen Village". Laveen Village is split between District 7 and District 8, both notable as minority-majority districts for the city. Although Laveen has been home to "pastoral alfalfa, cotton, and dairy farms" since the 1880s, housing and commercial developments have been increasingly urbanizing the area.
The Laveen area was first settled by farmers and dairymen in 1884. Despite its proximity to Phoenix, the community was isolated from its larger neighbor by the Salt River, which until the Roosevelt Dam was completed in 1911 carried water year-round. The only bridged crossing was at Central Avenue, more than six miles (10 km) away. Because of its isolation, like the rest of south Phoenix early Laveen was autonomous of Phoenix and became relatively self-sufficient, supporting two general stores, a barbershop, repair garage, two pool halls, and a building for the Laveen Women's Club. These businesses served as important gathering places for the greater Laveen community, which includes modern south Phoenix and the neighboring Gila River Indian Community (GRIC)
In the early 1900s, Walter E. Laveen and his family homesteaded an area encompassing all four corners of present-day 51st Avenue and Dobbins Road, where they also built the area's first general store—the Laveen Store—on the southeast corner. Members of the Laveen family donated land adjacent to their store for a school, which was built in 1913 and named Laveen School. A second general store, the Del Monte Market, was built in 1908 at 27th Avenue and Dobbins Road and is considered the oldest still standing building in Laveen.
In 1915, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation noted the community was called Laveen and had a population of less than 25. In March 1918, Walter Laveen was appointed the area's first postmaster, operating the post office in the back of his store. Laveen later served as Sheriff in Pinal County, Arizona.
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