How to Decide on the Right Trucker School near Ashdown Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Ashdown AR. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent income and flexible work opportunities. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to think about before making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Ashdown residence. The cost will also be important, but selecting a school based entirely on price is not the ideal means to ensure you’ll get the proper education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional 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 cover in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Ashdown AR, an operator must 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 choose a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate in addition to the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below 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 greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more 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 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 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 certain kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
When you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of assessing the Ashdown AR truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other factors, including the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several more points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few truck driving schools in the Ashdown AR area are accredited because of the demanding process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more common 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 quality, and that they will get lots 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 comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Ashdown AR schools had to begin from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain associations with local and national trucking firms. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms 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 Arkansas licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual instruction 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 insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. The majority of Ashdown AR schools provide training programs that range from three weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As earlier stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained 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 a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also important that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
How Much Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driver school will provide lots of driving time to its students. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time can vary between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Ashdown AR schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from certain trucking schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specific 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 having associations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just remember to inquire if the Ashdown AR schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates from other schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is also an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s imperative that the Ashdown AR school you select offers 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 instructor should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Provided? As soon as you have received your CDL license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Ashdown AR employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Ashdown 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 evaluating have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Ashdown AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Ashdown Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Ashdown (formerly Turkey Flats and Keller) is a city in Little River County, Arkansas, United States. The community was incorporated in 1892 and has been the county seat since 1906. Located within the Arkansas Timberlands between the Little River and the Red River, Ashdown's economy and development have historically been tied to the timber industry, a trend that continues to this day. Ashdown's population at the 2010 census was 4,723, a slight decrease from the 2000 census. The city's well-preserved history and proximity to outdoor recreation such as Millwood State Park draws tourists to the area. Although not within the Texarkana metropolitan area, the city's proximity to Texarkana impacts many areas of life in Ashdown.
Founded as a small farming community, Ashdown was initially known as Turkey Flats and later Keller before being renamed by Judge Lawrence Alexander Byrne. Following his Keller mill being "burned down to ashes", Byrne vowed to rebuild and found a town named Ashdown. It was incorporated on June 11, 1892 as Ashdown, and rapid growth began in 1895 following the railroad reaching town. The Arkansas and Choctaw Railroad connected Ashdown to Arkinda, and the growth of the Kansas City Southern Railway, the Frisco and the Memphis, Dallas and Gulf Railroad continued to grow the city and her timber industry, which had been utilizing steamboats and flatboats to ship lumber.
Following World War II, Ashdown's economy began to diversify. Its location near two rivers attracted manufacturing plants, such as Coca-Cola bottling plant, box factory, clothing plant, ice plant and a pallet plant. The United States Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Little River and Saline River at their confluence in 1966, forming Millwood Lake. The lake's recreational value attracted a Nekoosa Paper Company paper mill two years later, still in operation today after being purchased by Domtar. The Little River Memorial Hospital was also built during this period of rapid building and development.
CDL School Cost Ashdown AR
Choosing the appropriate truck driving school is a critical first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options offered and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL School Cost. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may want to consider 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 truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you receive your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Ashdown AR.
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