How to Find the Best Trucking School near Clarkedale Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a trucking school near Clarkedale AR. Perhaps it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while driving a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the proper training by selecting the right CDL school in your area. When assessing your options, there are a number of factors that you’ll need to examine before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Clarkedale residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the ideal method to make certain you’ll get the proper education. Don’t forget, your objective is to learn the skills and knowledge that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that objective in mind, just how do you pick a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to discuss in the rest of this article. But first, we are going to discuss a little bit about which CDL license you will eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles lawfully within the USA and Clarkedale AR, a driver must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that a person can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will discuss Class A and Class B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the kind of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as 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 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 needed 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. Several 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 drive specific kinds of vehicles, for instance passenger or school buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper needed endorsements, may drive any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to drive.
How to Research a Trucking School
After you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of assessing the Clarkedale AR truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, cost and location will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be emphasized enough that they must not be your sole concerns. Other issues, such as the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are similarly if not more important. So below are some additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence before choosing, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Very few truck driver schools in the Clarkedale AR area are accredited due to the rigorous process and expense to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent 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. Interested students know that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will get an ample amount of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 44 hours of real 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 satisfy the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help determine the quality of a truck driving school is how long it has been in business. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. However, even the top Clarkedale AR schools had to start from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifiers. You can also ask what the school’s track record is relating to successful licensing and employment of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those numbers, search elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only affirms an excellent reputation within the trade, but also boosts their job placement program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get in touch with the Arkansas licensing authority to verify that the CDL trucking schools you are reviewing are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arkansas and hire instructors that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the teachers in the next section. In addition, the student to instructor ratio should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personal 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 relatively short time frame. Training to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally requires time. Most Clarkedale AR schools provide training programs that run from 3 weeks to as long as 2 months, based on the class of license or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s essential that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more intuitive than other criteria, and perhaps the best method is to visit the school and talk to the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing 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? Most importantly, a good truck driver 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 important training tools, they are no replacement for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will become. Although driving time differs between schools, a good standard is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide no less than 44 hours of driving time. Check with the Clarkedale AR schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can receive discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific 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 maintaining associations 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 flexibility to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Obviously contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for some it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Clarkedale AR schools you are contemplating are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driving schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arkansas, ask if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more accommodating than battling with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is moreover an indicator that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Accessible? As earlier mentioned, CDL training is just one to two months in length. With such a brief duration, it’s imperative that the Clarkedale AR school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a certain driving maneuver, then the instructor should be willing to commit more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still working while going to training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from trucking school, you will be impatient to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job assistance programs. Ask what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates 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 not many Clarkedale AR employers recruiting their grads, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Truck driving schools are much like colleges and other Clarkedale 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 aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Class B CDL School Clarkedale Arkansas
Choosing the right truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new vocation as a long distance or local truck driver. The skill sets that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are a number of options available and understanding them is vital if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Class B CDL School and wanting information on the topic Truck Driving School Prices. However, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a professional and safe fashion. If you are short on money 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 enroll in an independent CDL school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking company of your choice, or one of several associated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be entering an industry that helps our country move as a professional truck driver in Clarkedale AR.
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