How to Choose the Right CDL Training Classes near Altus Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Altus AR. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have done some analysis and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver offers good pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s important to obtain the proper training by enrolling in the right CDL school in your area. When evaluating your options, there are a number of variables that you’ll want to examine prior to making your ultimate selection. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Altus home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based entirely on price is not the optimal means to make sure you’ll obtain the proper training. Just remember, your objective is to master the skills and knowledge 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 decide on a truck driving school? That is what we are going to address 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 Will You Need?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the United States and Altus AR, a driver needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes 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 driver school, we will address 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 short descriptions for the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A CDL 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 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. Some 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 CDLs may also need endorsements to operate certain kinds of vehicles, such as school or passenger buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, may operate 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 CDL you want to pursue, you can start the undertaking of researching the Altus AR truck driver schools that you are considering. As already discussed, cost and location will no doubt be your initial considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other variables, such as the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some more points that you need to research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driving schools in the Altus AR area are accredited due to the stringent process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more typical 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. Prospective students know that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will be given lots of driving time. As an 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 measure up to the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One clue to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the top Altus AR schools had to start from their first day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also maintain associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only affirms a quality reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job placement program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to get in touch with the Arkansas licensing authority to confirm that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and employ teachers that are experienced and trained. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any greater, then students will not be getting the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can teach you to drive trucks in a comparatively short time frame. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Altus AR schools provide training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Teachers? As previously mentioned, it’s essential that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though several states have minimum driving time criteria to be certified as an instructor, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also vital that the teachers keep up to date with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing teachers may be a bit more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method 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 completing the training and find out if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Sufficient Driving Time? Most importantly, an excellent truck driver school will furnish lots of driving time to its students. Besides, 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 alternative 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 differs among schools, a reasonable standard 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 Altus AR schools you are researching and ask how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specific carrier for a defined time period. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having affiliations with numerous trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only work with one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Clearly contract training has the potential to limit your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the ideal way to get affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Altus AR schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are several states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV views the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As earlier mentioned, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Altus AR school you enroll in 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 willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be keen to start your new career. Confirm that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Altus AR employers recruiting their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Offered? Truck driver schools are much like colleges and other Altus 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 examining have a financial assistance department, or at a minimum someone who can help you understand the options and forms that need to be submitted.
The Best Truck Driving Schools Altus Arkansas
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new profession 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 offered 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 The Best Truck Driving Schools and wanting information on the topic How To Get Your CDL License. However, you must obtain the necessary training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are lacking money or financing, you may need to think about 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 choose an independent trucking school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your decision. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Altus AR.
Truck On in These Other Arkansas Locations
Altus is a city in Franklin County, Arkansas, United States. Located within the Arkansas River Valley at the edge of the Ozark Mountains, the city is within the Fort Smith metropolitan area. The epicenter of the Altus American Viticultural Area (AVA) within Arkansas Wine Country, the city is home to four wineries. Although founded as a coal mining community, the wine industry has driven the Altus economy since the first vineyards were planted in 1872. The population was 758 at the 2010 census, down from 817 at the 2000 census.
Altus is the site of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church (St. Mary's Catholic Church), which is on the National Register of Historic Places. St. Mary's Catholic Church was built in 1902 and is known for its beautiful paintings, ornate gold leaf walls, and Roman architecture.
Altus had its start in 1875 when the railroad was extended to that point. Altus station was the highest point on the track. In recognition of this highest railroad elevation between Little Rock and Fort Smith, the station was originally known as "Summit". The town's initial development was due to railroad efforts encouraging German immigration to settle lands adjacent to the railroad. In 1903, the railroad mainline was shifted to a more favorable alignment along the Arkansas River. The track through Altus was removed in the 1930s, but the railroad station has been preserved as a commercial establishment.