How to Pick the Right CDL Driving School near Arkadelphia Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Arkadelphia AR. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that a career as a truck driver offers excellent wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are certain variables that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Arkadelphia residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to ensure you’ll receive the appropriate education. Just remember, your goal is to master the skills and knowledge that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Arkadelphia AR, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one 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, we will address Class A and 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 summaries for the 2 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. A few 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 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. Several 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 need endorsements to operate certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you wish to pursue, you can start the process of researching the Arkadelphia AR trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. 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 equally or even more important. So below are several additional factors that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Arkadelphia AR area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 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 training and curriculum will satisfy the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Arkadelphia AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following 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 obtaining the individual instruction 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 professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. Most Arkadelphia AR schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already mentioned, it’s imperative that the instructors are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also talk to a few 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.
How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driving school will furnish ample driving time to its students. Besides, 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 methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time differs among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Arkadelphia AR schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer 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 tradeoff is receiving free or less expensive training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to limit your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to find out if the Arkadelphia AR schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is also an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Arkadelphia AR school you enroll in offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still working while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Arkadelphia AR employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Given? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Arkadelphia AR area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Arkadelphia AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Arkadelphia Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Arkadelphia is a city in Clark County, Arkansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 10,714. The city is the county seat of Clark County. It is situated at the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. Two universities, Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University, are located there. Arkadelphia was incorporated in 1857.
The site was settled in about 1809 by John Hemphill, operator of a nearby salt works, Arkansas's first industry. It was known as Blakelytown until 1839, when the settlement adopted the name Arkadelphia. Origin of the name "Arkadelphia" is uncertain. One possibility is that it was formed by combining Ark- from the state's name Arkansas and adelphia from the Greek meaning "brother/place".
Another explanation of the name is a combination of "adelphia" for place and "arc." Arkadelphia was once known as the "City of Rainbows", perhaps because the humid climate often resulted in rain.
How To Get Class B License Arkadelphia AR
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is an important first step to starting your new profession 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 several options offered and understanding them is crucial if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Get Class B License. But first and foremost, you must receive the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or in some cases no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you get your training, you will soon be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Arkadelphia AR.
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