CDL Driving School Salem AR

How to Pick the Right Trucking School near Salem Arkansas

long haul tractor trailer in Salem ARCongratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Salem AR. Maybe it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a huge tractor trailer. Or possibly you have done some analysis and have found that a career as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible work prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s important to get the appropriate training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are various variables that you’ll want to think about prior to making your final choice. Location will certainly be an issue, especially if you have to commute from your Salem home. The cost will also be of importance, but selecting a school based exclusively on price is not the ideal way to guarantee you’ll get the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? That is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to talk a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.

Which CDL Should You Get?

tanker truck in Salem ARTo operate commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Salem AR, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject of this article is how to choose 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). Following are brief summaries for the two classes.

Class A CDL. A Class A CDL is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. A few 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 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 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 require endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, including passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is authorized to operate.

How to Assess a Truck Driving School

Questions to ask Salem AR truck driving schoolsAs soon as you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you wish to pursue, you can start the process of assessing the Salem AR truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already mentioned, location and cost will certainly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they should not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are several more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to choosing, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.

Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Salem AR area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more commonplace and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not obligated to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 training and curriculum will meet the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.

How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Salem 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 track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t provide those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only points to a quality reputation within the industry, but also bolsters their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arkansas licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.

How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will discuss more about the teachers in the next segment. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal attention 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 professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. Most Salem AR schools provide training programs that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.

How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s imperative 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 vital that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Assessing instructors may be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with some 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.

How Much Driving Time? Most importantly, a great trucking school will furnish sufficient 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training tools, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. And even though driving time fluctuates among schools, a reasonable benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Salem AR schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they provide.

Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive free or discounted training from certain truck driver schools if you make a commitment to be a driver for a particular 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 refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to ask if the Salem AR schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.

Provide Onsite CDL Testing? There are a number of states that will permit third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available 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 facilities. It is also an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.

Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, CDL training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Salem 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 particular 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 needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other commitments.

Is Job Assistance Offered? The moment you have received your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to begin your new profession. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Salem AR employers recruiting their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.

Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Salem 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 evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be completed.

Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Salem AR?

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

Salem, Arkansas

CDL Driving School Salem AR

Salem AR long haul truckSelecting the right truck driver school is an important first step to launching your new vocation as a long distance or local 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 crucial to a new driver’s success.  You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Driving School.  But first and foremost, you must obtain the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are short on cash or financing, you may want to look into 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 select an independent trucker 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 regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering a profession that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Salem AR.

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