How to Decide on the Right Truck Driver Classes near Harrisburg Arkansas
Congratulations on your decision to become a trucker and enroll in a truck driving school near Harrisburg AR. Perhaps it has always been your fantasy to hit the open road while operating a big ole tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some research and have discovered that an occupation as a truck driver provides good pay and flexible work prospects. Regardless of what your reason is, it’s essential to receive the appropriate training by choosing the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll need to think about before making your final choice. Location will no doubt be important, particularly if you have to commute from your Harrisburg residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based exclusively on price is not the best means to make sure you’ll receive the proper training. Don’t forget, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL examinations and become a qualified truck driver. So keeping that purpose in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? That 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 CDL license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to operate commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Harrisburg AR, an operator must get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 classes of licenses that one can apply for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Since the subject 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 together with the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short summaries for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is required to operate any vehicle that has a GCWR of greater than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of greater than 10,000 lbs. A few 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. 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 may also need endorsements to drive specific types of vehicles, for example school or passenger buses. And a Class A license holder, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B licensee is qualified to drive.
How to Assess a Trucking School
When you have determined which Commercial Drivers License you want to pursue, you can begin the process of evaluating the Harrisburg AR truck driving schools that you are looking at. As already discussed, location and cost will certainly be your initial concerns. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your only concerns. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are similarly or even more important. So below are some additional points that you should research while performing your due diligence before enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many truck driving schools in the Harrisburg AR area are accredited because of the rigorous process and expense to the schools. However, certification is more common and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are several advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest standard, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real 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 standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Business? One clue to help measure the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Harrisburg AR schools had to begin from their first day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also learn what the school’s history is pertaining to successful licensing and employment of its graduates. If a school won’t share those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should also have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only confirms a superior reputation within the profession, but also boosts their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn’t hurt to contact the Arkansas licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucker schools you are considering are in compliance.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools should be licensed in Arkansas and hire teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the following segment. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be obtaining the individual attention they will need. This is particularly true concerning the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that claims 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 takes time. Most Harrisburg AR schools offer training courses that range from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the class of license or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Trainers? As previously stated, it’s important that the instructors are trained to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Even though a number of states have minimum driving time requirements to qualify as a teacher, the more successful driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also important that the teachers stay up to date with industry developments or any new laws or changes in regulations. Evaluating instructors may be a little more subjective than other criteria, and possibly the ideal approach is to visit the school and speak with the teachers in person. You can also talk to some of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s qualification to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great truck driving school will provide plenty of 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 driving a truck. While the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are necessary training methods, they are no substitute for real driving. The more training that a student receives behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. Although driving time fluctuates between schools, a good benchmark is 32 hours at a minimum. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Contact the Harrisburg AR schools you are considering and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Captive or Independent ? It’s possible to receive discounted or even free training from certain trucking schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver 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 rather than having associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by surrendering the flexibility to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for some it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just remember to ask if the Harrisburg AR schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Provide CDL Testing Onsite? There are some states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its graduates. 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 contending with graduates of other schools for test times at Arkansas testing locations. It is also an indication that the DMV considers the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driver training is just one to two months long. With such a brief term, it’s important that the Harrisburg AR school you select offers flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. For example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you are proficient. And if you’re still employed while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to accommodate working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Provided? Once you have obtained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be impatient to begin your new career. Verify that the schools you are reviewing have job placement programs. Find out what their job placement ratio is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for hiring. If a school has a lower job placement rate or few Harrisburg AR employers hiring their graduates, it may be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Harrisburg AR area technical or vocational schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial aid being offered. Find out if the schools you are evaluating have a financial aid department, or at least someone who can help you understand the options and forms that must be submitted.
CDL School Near Me Harrisburg Arkansas
Picking the right truck driving school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that forge 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 School Near Me and wanting information on the topic Truck Driving Classes. But first and foremost, you must receive the proper training in order to drive a big commercial vehicle in a professional and safe manner. If you are lacking cash or financing, you may need to consider a captive school. You will pay a reduced or in some cases no tuition by agreeing to drive for their contracted carrier. Or you can select an independent trucker school and have the option of driving for the trucking company of your choice, or one of many affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you obtain your training, you will soon be entering an industry that helps America move as a professional truck driver in Harrisburg AR.
Truck On in These Other Arkansas Locations
Harrisburg is a city in Poinsett County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 2,288 at the 2010 census. It is included in the Jonesboro, Arkansas Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is the county seat of Poinsett County.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,192 people, 855 households, and 582 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,050.4 people per square mile (404.9/km²). There were 928 housing units at an average density of 444.7/sq mi (171.4/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 96.66% White, 1.24% Black or African American, 0.09% Native American, 0.27% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 0.87% from other races, and 0.82% from two or more races. 1.51% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race and 00.01% Other.
There were 855 households out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.8% were married couples living together, 15.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.9% were non-families. 29.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.33 and the average family size was 2.84.
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