How to Decide on the Right Truck Driving School near Lonoke Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a CDL school near Lonoke AR. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible job prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll want to consider prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will undoubtedly be an issue, particularly if you have to commute from your Lonoke residence. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based solely on price is not the ideal method to make sure you’ll get the right 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 qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to cover in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Lonoke AR, an operator must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will highlight Class A and 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 for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed 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 Commercial Drivers License is required 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. A few 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 might also require endorsements to operate specific kinds of vehicles, such as passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
When you have determined which CDL you would like to pursue, you can start the undertaking of evaluating the Lonoke AR truck driver schools that you are considering. As previously mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, including the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So below are several additional things that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Lonoke AR area are accredited because of the rigorous 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 obligated to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will be given an ample amount of driving time. As an example, PTDI requires 44 hours of actual driving time, not ride-alongs or simulations. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will comply with the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help determine the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A negatively rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Lonoke AR schools had to start from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s history is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be obtaining the personalized instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short period of time. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully takes time. Most Lonoke AR schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the instructors face to face. You can also speak with some of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, a good truck driver school will furnish plenty of 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 driving a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training tools, they are no alternative for real driving. The more instruction that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Lonoke AR schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from some truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining affiliations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the only way to get affordable training. Just make sure to find out if the Lonoke AR schools you are contemplating are independent or captive 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 truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is allowed in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than competing with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV regards the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, CDL training is only about 1 to 2 months in length. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Lonoke AR school you choose offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have obtained your CDL license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be anxious 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, find out which national and local trucking firms their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Lonoke AR employers recruiting their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Lonoke AR area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Lonoke AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Lonoke Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Lonoke (/ˈloʊnoʊk/) is the second most populous city in Lonoke County, Arkansas, United States, and serves as its county seat. According to 2010 United States Census, the population of the city is 4,245. It is part of the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Lonoke's history begins with the advance of Union troops through Central Arkansas during the American Civil War. The town of Brownsville was burned to the ground by Union forces after the retreat of Confederate forces westward to Little Rock. After the war, it was decided by the city leaders of Brownsville that a new town should be formed by the nearby railroad so that those who wished to stay could do so.
According to local legend, the town was named for a large red oak tree that was found while trees were being chopped down in order to build houses. The official name of the city was originally Lone Oak. However, due to a misprint in the Lonoke Democrat newspaper, the town's name was printed as Lonoak. Eventually, this misspelling became further misspelled as Lonoke.
Trucking Driving Schools Lonoke AR
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge a new career behind the wheel. There are many options available and understanding them is critical to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Trucking Driving Schools. But first and foremost, you must get the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are short on money or financing, you might need to look into a captive school. You will pay a reduced or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can enroll in an independent trucking school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering a profession that helps America move as a professional trucker in Lonoke AR.
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