How to Enroll in the Right CDL Driving School near El Dorado Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near El Dorado AR. Maybe it has always been your fantasy to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good wages and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the proper training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you’ll want to consider before making your final selection. Location will no doubt be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your El Dorado residence. The expense will also be of importance, but selecting a school based solely on price is not the best means to ensure you’ll obtain the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select 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 review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which CDL Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and El Dorado AR, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a driver 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, we will discuss 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). Following are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License 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. Some 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 Commercial Drivers License is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 may also require endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driver School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of assessing the El Dorado AR trucking schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only considerations. Other factors, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So below are a few 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 Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the El Dorado AR area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent 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 quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s course is certified (the course, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will measure up to the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help determine the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly ranked or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top El Dorado AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several 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 share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized 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 claims it can teach 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 El Dorado AR schools offer training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Instructors? As already stated, it’s important that the teachers are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though 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 crucial that the instructors stay current with industry advancements or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to visit the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide lots of 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 ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are essential training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a good standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the El Dorado AR schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can get discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the best way to get affordable training. Just remember to find out if the El Dorado AR schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will permit 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is allowed in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously noted, CDL training is only about one to two months in length. With such a short term, it’s important that the El Dorado 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 devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? The moment 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 contemplating have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many El Dorado AR employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Truck driver schools are comparable to colleges and other El Dorado AR area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance 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 El Dorado AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the El Dorado Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
El Dorado, Arkansas
El Dorado is headquarters of the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission as well as Murphy Oil, Murphy USA, Deltic Timber Corporation, and the Lion Oil Refinery. The city contains a community college, South Arkansas Community College ("SouthArk"), a multi-cultural arts center: South Arkansas Arts Center (SAAC). El Dorado is the population, cultural, and business center of the regional area.
The city is best known as being the heart of the 1920s oil boom in southern Arkansas. Its nickname is "Arkansas’s Original Boomtown". During World War II, it became a center of the chemical industry, which still plays a part in the economy, as do oil and timber. El Dorado is located approximately 100 miles (160 km) from the state capital of Little Rock.
El Dorado is located at 33°12′49″N 92°39′45″W / 33.21361°N 92.66250°W / 33.21361; -92.66250 (33.213521, -92.662553). in Union County, Arkansas in the southern part of the state. Union County is the largest county in the state of Arkansas and borders the state of Louisiana. The area has the unique feature of sharing its border with eight counties and parishes: Ouachita; Calhoun; Bradley; Columbia; Ashley; Claiborne Parish; Union Parish; and Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. El Dorado is the largest urban population center in its region.
Area Truck Driving School El Dorado AR
Picking the ideal trucking school is a critical 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. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Area Truck Driving School. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to operate a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you might want to think about 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 truck driving school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in El Dorado AR.
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