CDL Training Course Helena AR

How to Enroll in the Right Trucking School near Helena Arkansas

long haul tractor trailer in Helena ARCongrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Helena AR. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to examine before making your final selection. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Helena residence. The expense will also be important, but picking a school based solely on price is not the optimal method to guarantee you’ll receive the proper training. 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 purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address in the remainder of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.

Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Require?

tanker truck in Helena ARIn order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the United States and Helena AR, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three classes of licenses that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driving school, we will address Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are brief summaries of the 2 classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive 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 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 needed to drive 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. Some 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 drive specific types of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to drive.

How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School

Questions to ask Helena AR truck driving schoolsWhen you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Helena AR truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other factors, for instance the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are some additional things that you should research while carrying out your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driver training.

Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Helena AR area are accredited because of the stringent process and expense 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 several advantages. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of actual 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 curriculum and training will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.

How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A negatively rated or a fly by night school normally will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Helena AR schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to check with the Arkansas licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in good standing.

How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and employ instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the teachers in the following segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personal attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to drive trucks in a relatively short period of time. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Helena AR schools offer training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal method is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with some of the students completing the training and find out if they are happy with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.

Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking 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. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no substitute for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time can vary 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. Contact the Helena AR schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.

Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified 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 having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Helena AR schools you are looking at are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its graduates. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.

Are the Classes Flexible? As formerly noted, CDL training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Helena AR school you choose 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 teacher should be prepared to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Placement Provided? The moment you have attained your CDL license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Confirm that the schools you are considering have job placement 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 poor job placement rate or not many Helena AR employers hiring their grads, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Helena AR area vocational or trade schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are examining have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.

Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Helena AR?

If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Helena Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.

Helena–West Helena, Arkansas

Helena–West Helena is the county seat of and the largest city within Phillips County, Arkansas, United States.[3] The current city was consolidated, effective January 1, 2006, from the two Arkansas cities of Helena and West Helena. Helena is sited on lowlands between the Mississippi River and the eastern side of Crowley's Ridge. West Helena is located on the western side of Crowley's Ridge, a geographic anomaly in the typically flat Arkansas Delta. The Helena Bridge, one of Arkansas' four Mississippi River bridges, carries U.S. Route 49 across to Mississippi. The combined population of the two cities was 15,012 at the 2000 census and at the 2010 census, the official population was 12,282.[4]

The municipality traces its historical roots to the founding of the port town of Helena on the Mississippi River by European Americans in 1833. As the county seat, Helena was the center of a prosperous cotton plantation region in the antebellum years. Helena was occupied by the Union Army early in the American Civil War. The city was the site of the Battle of Helena fought in 1863. Confederate forces unsuccessfully tried to expel Union forces from Helena in order to help relieve pressure on the strategic river town of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Later in the year, Helena served as the launching point for the Union Army in the capture of Little Rock, the state capital.

A thriving blues community developed here in the 1940s and 1950s as rural musicians relocated for city jobs. Mechanization had reduced the need for farm workers. The city continued to grow until the closing of the Mohawk Rubber Company, a subsidiary of Yokohama Rubber Company, in the 1970s. Unemployment surged shortly after.[5]

CDL Training Course Helena AR

Helena AR long haul truckSelecting the appropriate truck driving school is an essential first step to beginning your new profession as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is crucial to a new driver’s success.  You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Training Course.  But first and foremost, you must get the appropriate training in order to operate a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might want to look into 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 select an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But no matter how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Helena AR.

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