How to Pick the Right CDL Driving School near Clinton Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Clinton AR. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some research and have found that an occupation as a truck driver provides excellent wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are certain variables that you’ll need to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be important, especially if you have to commute from your Clinton residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based only on price is not the best method to make sure you’ll get the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective 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 objective in mind, just how do you select 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 CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
To drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Clinton AR, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can apply 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 highlight Class A and Class 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 descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Several 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 operate 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 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses might also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Research a CDL School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Clinton AR truck driver schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other factors, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional factors that you need to research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Clinton AR area are accredited because of the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, 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 certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. 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 Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Clinton AR schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications. You can also find out what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Arkansas licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the individual 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 teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Clinton AR schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as two months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As already stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also talk to a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Enough Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent trucking 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for real driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time can vary among schools, a good standard 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 Clinton AR schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a particular carrier for a defined amount of time. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the ideal way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Clinton AR 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 allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are looking at are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of other schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months long. With such a brief duration, it’s important that the Clinton AR school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to dedicate more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career. Make sure that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Clinton AR employers hiring their grads, it may be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Clinton AR area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Clinton AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Clinton Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Clinton is the county seat of Van Buren County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 2,602 at the 2010 census, making it the most populous city in the county (reclaiming the distinction from the resort community of Fairfield Bay). The city was named for DeWitt Clinton, the New York governor who built the Erie Canal; he had also been a U.S. Senator from New York.
The City of Clinton is situated on the shore of the Archey Fork, a tributary of the Upper Little Red River which flows into Greers Ferry Lake. This body of water is known for its rich and diverse fish habitat and recreational uses. A channelization project in 1982 following a major flood event has recently been re-engineered by The Nature Conservancy in cooperation with city officials and corporate sponsors. The multi-phase restoration project has witnessed the installation of a cantilevered stream bed, bank stabilization, and habitat regeneration. The restoration is now part of the city's historic downtown park and trail system.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,283 people, 1,007 households, and 626 families residing in the city. The population density was 200.3 people per square mile (77.3/km²). There were 1,123 housing units at an average density of 98.5 per square mile (38.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 95.71% White, 0.04% Black or African American, 0.74% Native American, 0.13% Asian, 1.31% from other races, and 2.06% from two or more races. 2.67% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
How To Get Class B CDL Clinton AR
Picking the appropriate truck driving school is an important 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 mold a new career behind the wheel. There are several options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in How To Get Class B CDL. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on funds or financing, you might want to look into a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you receive your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Clinton AR.
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