How to Enroll in the Best CDL Training Classes near Alma Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Alma AR. Perhaps it has always been your dream to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or possibly you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to get the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you have to commute from your Alma home. The expense will also be of importance, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the optimal means to ensure you’ll receive the right education. Just remember, your objective is to master the knowledge and skills that will enable you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the remainder 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 Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Alma AR, an operator must obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that a person can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will focus on Class A and Class 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). Following are brief explanations of the two 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 more 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 CDL 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. 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 Commercial Drivers Licenses may also require endorsements to drive certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can drive any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to operate.
How to Assess a Truck Driving School
As soon as you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Alma AR trucking schools that you are considering. As earlier mentioned, cost and location will undoubtedly be your primary considerations. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your only concerns. Other variables, such as 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 performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driving schools in the Alma AR area are accredited due to the demanding process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more commonplace 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 standard, and that they will get lots 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 curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated 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 Alma AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifications. You can also ask what the school’s track record is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t share those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally maintain relationships with regional and national trucking firms. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also bolsters their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Arkansas licensing authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire teachers that are experienced and trained. We will discuss more about the instructors in the following section. 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 receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And look out for any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer skillfully requires time. The majority of Alma AR schools offer training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience an instructor has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers might be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the ideal approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also talk to 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.
Plenty of 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 actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more instruction that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will be. Although driving time differs between schools, a reasonable standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish a minimum of 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Alma AR schools you are looking at and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you make a commitment to drive for a specified carrier for a defined period of time. This is what’s known as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of having relationships 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 choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to limit 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 Alma 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 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 reviewing are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is also an indicator that the DMV considers the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As previously noted, truck driver training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief term, it’s essential that the Alma AR school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other commitments.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be eager to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a low job placement rate or not many Alma AR employers hiring their graduates, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Trucking schools are comparable to colleges and other Alma AR area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be completed.
CDL Training And Job Placement Alma Arkansas
Picking the right truck driving school is an essential first step to launching your new occupation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills taught at school will be those that shape a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is critical if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in CDL Training And Job Placement and wanting information on the topic CDL Course. However, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you might need 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 enroll in an independent truck driver school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will soon be part of an industry that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Alma AR.
Truck On in These Other Arkansas Locations
Alma is a city in Crawford County, Arkansas, United States. It is located within the Arkansas River Valley at the edge of the Ozark Mountains; the city is the sixth largest in the Fort Smith metropolitan area. The population was 5,419 at the 2010 Census. The city is located at the intersection of Interstates 40 and 49.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.6 square miles (14.4 km2), of which 5.4 square miles (14.0 km2) is land and 0.15 square miles (0.4 km2), or 3.06%, is water.
Alma has no airport, and the train station, which fell into a state of dilapidation, was torn down in the early 1970s. Much of its commerce derives from interstate highway traffic, as Interstates 40 and 49 (previously 540), as well as U.S. Routes 64 and 71, pass through the city.