How to Choose the Right Truck Driver School near Vilonia Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Vilonia AR. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open road while operating a huge tractor trailer. Or maybe you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good income and flexible job prospects. No matter what your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several variables that you’ll need to examine prior to making your final selection. Location will certainly be important, especially if you need to commute from your Vilonia home. The cost will also be of importance, but choosing a school based only on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll obtain the proper training. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? That is what we are going to cover in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will ultimately need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
To drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Vilonia AR, a driver needs to attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to pick a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes 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). Below are brief explanations of the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. Several of the vehicles that drivers may be able to operate 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 needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater 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 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 specific kinds of vehicles, for example school or passenger 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 drive.
How to Evaluate a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to obtain, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Vilonia AR truck driving schools that you are looking at. As earlier discussed, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other issues, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally if not more important. So following are a few additional points that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence prior to choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many trucking schools in the Vilonia AR area are accredited due to the demanding process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are a number of advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will get plenty of driving time. As an 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 benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One indicator 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. Having said that, even the top Vilonia AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is concerning successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those stats, search elsewhere. The schools should additionally have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms an excellent reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arkansas licensing department to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the teachers in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should not be greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be receiving the personal 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 train you to drive trucks in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Vilonia AR schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As earlier mentioned, it’s essential that the instructors are trained to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the instructors keep up to date with industry advancements or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers may be a bit more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with 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 quality of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a good truck driver school will furnish ample 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 simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies among schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Vilonia AR schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to get discounted or even free training from certain truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with a wide range of trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for some it may be the only way to obtain affordable training. Just make sure to inquire if the Vilonia AR schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One benefit is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing facilities. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV deems the authorized schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As formerly mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a short term, it’s essential that the Vilonia AR school you enroll in provides flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. As an example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to spend more time with you until you have it mastered. 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 Provided? As soon as you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be anxious to begin your new profession. Confirm 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 national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for hiring. If a school has a poor job placement rate or not many Vilonia AR employers hiring their grads, it might be a clue to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Given? Truck driver schools are similar to colleges and other Vilonia 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 evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that need to be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Vilonia AR?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Vilonia Arkansas area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Vilonia is a city in Faulkner County, Arkansas, United States. Its population was 3,815 at the 2010 census, up from 2,106 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Little Rock–North Little Rock–Conway Metropolitan Statistical Area.
A small portion of the town was destroyed by a tornado on the evening of April 25, 2011. The devastated area was a mobile home park. The tornado was confirmed by National Weather Service survey crews, who rated the tornado a high end EF2. Four people were killed in the Vilonia area as a result of the twister.
On April 27, 2014 in the late evening hours, a violent EF4 tornado slammed through Mayflower and continued on into Vilonia just before 8 PM. Sixteen people were killed, several homes in one subdivision were swept clean off their foundations, a 15-ton fertilizer tank was thrown 3/4 of a mile, and several businesses were damaged or destroyed. The rating is disputed due to the fact that houses were completely obliterated. The NWS office in Little Rock said that if it occurred before the EF-Scale was implemented in 2007, it more than likely would have been rated an F5. There was consideration for upgrading the tornado to EF5 status, but due to the low quality of construction, the EF4 rating stands.
Becoming A Truck Driver Vilonia AR
Choosing the ideal truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new occupation 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 crucial to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Becoming A Truck Driver. However, you must get the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional manner. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need 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 select an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Vilonia AR.
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