How to Decide on the Best CDL Training School near Columbus Arkansas
Congrats on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a trucking school near Columbus AR. Maybe it has always been your goal to hit the open road while driving a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have found that an occupation as a truck driver offers excellent pay and flexible job opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s essential to obtain the proper training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are several factors that you’ll want to think about prior to making your ultimate choice. Location will no doubt be important, especially if you need to commute from your Columbus home. The expense will also be important, but choosing a school based exclusively on price is not the best way to guarantee you’ll receive the right education. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you select a truck driving school? The answer to that question 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 eventually need.
Which Commercial Drivers License Will You Need?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Columbus AR, a driver must attain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The three license classes that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the subject of this article is how to choose a truck driving school, we will highlight Class A and B licenses. What differentiates 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). Below are short descriptions of the 2 classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more 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 Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive single vehicles having a GVWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some 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 need endorsements to drive certain types of vehicles, including school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the proper required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
Once you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you wish to obtain, you can begin the process of researching the Columbus AR truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they must not be your only considerations. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally if not more important. So following are some more factors that you need to research while carrying out your due diligence before selecting, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Very few trucking schools in the Columbus AR area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more typical 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. Prospective students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive lots of driving time. For example, PTDI calls for 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 training and curriculum will comply with the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the best of Columbus AR schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is regarding successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t supply those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should also have relationships with local and national trucking companies. Having a large number of contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, 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 authority to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are researching are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? As a minimum requirement, 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 section. In addition, the student to instructor proportion should not be higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be getting the personal attention they will need. This is especially true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can teach you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time period. Training to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Columbus AR schools offer training courses that range from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or type of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As earlier stated, it’s important that the teachers are qualified to teach driving methods and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Even though several states have minimum driving time requirements to be certified as a teacher, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the instructors stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more intuitive than other standards, and perhaps the ideal approach is to check out the school and speak with the instructors in person. 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.
Enough Driving Time? Above all else, an excellent trucking school will provide plenty 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. Even though the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are essential training methods, they are no replacement for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. Although driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Columbus AR schools you are researching and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to obtain discounted or even free training from certain truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a particular carrier for a defined time period. This is called contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can place their graduates with, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the freedom to initially be a driver wherever you choose. Clearly contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to obtain affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Columbus AR schools you are considering are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its grads. If onsite testing is available in Arkansas, find out if the schools you are reviewing are DMV certified to offer it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than battling with graduates from competing schools for test times at Arkansas testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV views the authorized schools to be of a superior quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As previously mentioned, truck driving training is just one to two months in length. With such a short duration, it’s essential that the Columbus AR school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing 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? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to start your new profession. Verify that the schools you are contemplating have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement percentage is and what average salary their grads start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are referred to for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Columbus AR employers hiring their grads, it may be a sign to look elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Columbus AR area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being available. Ask if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be completed.
Truck Driving Schools Cost Columbus Arkansas
Picking the appropriate truck driver school is a critical first step to starting your new vocation as a local or long distance truck driver. The skill sets 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 if you are going to succeed as an operator. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Truck Driving Schools Cost and wanting information on the topic Training For CDL License. But first and foremost, you must receive the appropriate training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking funds or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent truck driver school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choosing, or one of many associated with the school. It’s your choice. But no matter how you get your training, you will in the near future be joining a profession that helps our country move as a professional trucker in Columbus AR.
Truck On in These Other Arkansas Locations
Malco Theatres, Inc. is a movie theatre chain that has remained family owned and operated for over one hundred years. It has been led by four generations of the Lightman family. The company has 33 theatre locations with over 340 screens in six states (including Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee). Malco also operates three bowling centers and a family entertainment center in southern Louisiana and a family entertainment center in Oxford, MS.
Malco Theatres' history began during World War I when Morris A. "M. A." Lightman, Sr., (known as M.A.) the son of Hungarian immigrant Joseph Lightman, left his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, and went to Colbert County, Alabama, to work on the Wilson Dam project as an engineer. Although he held a degree in engineering from Vanderbilt University, he thought of himself more as a showman and entertainer. Lightman decided it was time to try something new one day while in Northwest Alabama, when he came upon a long line of people waiting to get into a local theatre. He decided he wanted to operate a movie theatre. Lightman traveled to Atlanta where he had made a contact in the theatre business and sought to learn the art of movie exhibition.
Upon his return two months later to Northwest Alabama, in February 1915, Lightman formed The Sterling Amusement Company and opened his first theatre in a storefront he had rented in Sheffield, Alabama. Lightman named this storefront theatre "The Liberty Theater", and later opened a 400-seat theatre, "The Majestic" across the river in Florence, Alabama at 204 North Court Street, in August 1919. Lightman opened a third theatre in the area before accepting an offer from another local theatre owner to buy out his theatres in the area. In return, Lightman received a 50 per cent stake in a theatre in North Little Rock, Arkansas.